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Professor B'.H. Lehman 













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Cum librum cui titulus ' The Personality of Christ ' 
a Rmo P. Anschario Vonier, Abbate Congregationis 
Nostrae, anglico sermone exaratum, Rmus P. Abbas 
Thomas Bergh, Censor a Nobis deputatus, recognoverit 
et in lucem edi posse probaverit, facultatem facimus 
ut typis mandetur, si iis ad quos pertinet ita videbitur. 
Datum Sublaci in Protocoenobio S. Scholasticae, V., 
die 26 Junii 1914. 

D. Maurus M. Serafini, O.S.B., 

Abb. Gen. 
D. Isidorus M. Sain, O.S.B., 
a Secretis. 

Nihil Obstat. 

Francis. M. Canon Wyndham, 
Censor Deputatus. 


Edm. Canon Surmont, 
Vic. Gen. 


die 26 Augusti, 1914. 


The four Gospels are the books most written about 
and most commented on in our own days. No 
age has produced anything superior, in finished 
scholarship, to the Gospel literature of our times. 
Even those exegetes from whom the fulness of 
the Christian faith is not to be expected are 
mostly reverent and often exhibit learning of the 
highest quality. Indeed, the modern system of 
' Meditation/ on the other hand, as an integral 
part of spiritual and ascetical life, has produced an 
endless variety of books in which Christ's Life is 
set forth in a way that ought to be most efficacious 
in making us understand the Gospels, as they are 
ransacked by the writers of ' Meditations ' in 
order to compel us to more intimate love for, 
and more close imitation of, Christ. Some of 
those productions are really superior studies of 
the wonderful character of Christ, and they give 
us what mere exegetical learning could never give — 
an insight into Christ's intimate Life. The present 
work is neither exegetical, nor apologetical, nor 



devotional, but strictly theological. Catholic 
Christology has received less attention from the 
public, though our own days have seen the 
production of some first-rate treatises de Verbo 
Incamato by professional theologians. Yet we 
cannot entirely neglect the theological view of 
Christ without grave dangers to both our exegetical 
and devotional efforts. In my own humble way I 
am trying to help in filling up the great gap with 
the present modest book. 

The English Fathers of the Dominican Order 
are bringing out an English translation of the 
third part of the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas, 
which is his treatise on the Incarnation. That 
there should be a demand for such a work, in the 
Anglo-Saxon world, is a thing to rejoice the Angels ; 
there are evidently men amongst us eager to 
penetrate the subtleties and sound the depths of 
the masterpieces of religious thought. 

My book is a very unconventional rendering 
of the most important points of the third part of 
the Summa ; but I trust that I have at least 
succeeded in giving the spirit of the great medieval 
saint and thinker, and if the following pages 
produce a desire in the reader to go to the Summa 
itself, I shall consider that I have had a notable 

Buckfast Abbey. 

May i, 1914. 



I. Thb Metaphysics of the Incarnation . 

II. The Christ of the Gospels, of Chris- 
tian Theology, and of Christian 
Experience ..... 

III. Christ and the Science of Comparative 

Religion . . 

IV. Christ the Wonderful . 

V. An Attempt at defining Personality 

VI. The Replacement of Human Personality 
by Divine Personality . 

VII. The Continuance of the Human Nature 
in Christ .... 

VIII. ' Amen, Amen, I say to you, Before 
Abraham was made, I am ' 

IX. How completely Christ's Human Nature 
is Divine ..... 

X. The Word was made Flesh . 

XI. A Scholastic Hypothesis 


XIII. The Aim of Hypostatic Union 

XIV. The Two Wills and the Two Operations 

in Christ ..... 

XV. Christ's Knowledge. 

XVI. In Christ 

XVII. Christ All in All .... 











XVIII. Christ's Reserves . . . .122 

XIX. The Hiding of Christ's Godhead . .128 

XX. The Form of the Slave . . .132 

XXI. The Transition . . . . .142 

XXII. Christ's Sincerity 152 

XXIII. The Great Life 161 

XXIV. God Meeting God 176 

XXV. The Man of Sorrows . . . .181 

XXVI. The Happiness of Christ . . .185 

XXVII. Christ the Strong One . . . 190 

XXVIII. The Misunderstandings of the Gospel . 196 

XXIX. The Christ Tragedy . . . .202 

XXX. The Character of Christ . . .210 

XXXI. Christ's Place in the World . . 221 

XXXII. Christ and the World's Progress . 230 

XXXIII. The Power of Christ .... 235 

XXXIV. The Finding of Christ . . .238 

XXXV. Christ the Father of the World to come 242 

XXXVI. The Link between Christ's Mortal Life 

and the Eucharist . 247 

XXXVII. The Majesty of the Eucharistic Presence 251 

XXXVIII. The Blood of Christ .... 255 

XXXIX. The Optimism of the Incarnation . .260 

XL. Christ the Hero. . . . .268 

Conclusion 271 




There is from the very beginning of our Lord's 
earthly life the substitution of the personal element 
for the purely legal element. He is a mysterious 
personality, and the whole success of His religion 
lies in His being trusted, in His being followed, 
in His being understood ; the main precept of 
His religion is a personal precept of love for one 
another. In other words, instead of material legal 
observances He established the great observances 
of the human heart, of mutual understanding, of 
mutual support, of mutual love. ' Bear ye one 
another's burdens, and so you shall fulfil the 
law of Christ.' 1 

It is the triumph of His grace to keep human 
beings in the oneness of religious faith without 
imposing upon them any strict obligation of 

1 Gal. vi, 2, 

•*. .toe; personality of christ 

uniformity in external ascetical practice. He Him- 
self, in His own Person, is the unifying force of 
Christianity. His first disciples followed Him in 
the simplicity of their new friendship, carried away 
by His ineffable charm. No doubt they gloried 
in being the followers of so great a rabbi, and yet 
they had no external observance to make them into 
a school. How could they be the followers of a 
teacher without fasting, whilst the disciples of John 
and the disciples of the Pharisees fast so frequently ? 
In other words, how could any man be a disciple of 
another man unless he carried in himself the badge 
of that man's mastery in the way of a fast, or an 
ablution, or a prayer ? 

Men hold their fellow men together with the 
chains of some external austerity ; no man can be 
another man's master in truth and reality without 
putting upon the neck of the disciple the iron 
yoke of bodily observance ; yet it was to be the 
achievement of the new rabbi to have a school 
whose only observance it was to believe and to 
have confidence in Him, and to have friendship 
and love one with another. ' By this shall 
men know that you are my disciples, if you have 
love one for another.' 1 ' Can the children of the 
marriage fast as long as the bridegroom is with 
them ? . . . But the days will come, when the 
bridegroom is taken away from them, and then 

1 St. John xiii. 35. 


they shall fast in those days.' * Fasting has its 
part in the formation of a Christian. But you 
are not Christ's disciple simply because you fast 
four times in the week, whilst John's disciples 
fast thrice, and the Pharisees twice. ' By this 
shall men know that you are my disciples, if you 
have love one for another.' 

The early attraction to Christ and fidelity to 
Him have all the joyous liberty of a nuptial feast ; 
attachment and fellowship are all the surer because 
the feast is bright and gay ; serious work is to be 
done after the feast, but the memory of the feast 
remains the undying tie of attachment. 

The peace and the prosperity of the Christian 
cause are all in that. All conversion, all sanctity, 
must be associated with Christ's Person and the 
human persons with whom our lot is cast. Sanctity 
may indeed have certain secondary variations. 
With some souls Christ's Person is the predomin- 
ating element ; with other souls, thoughts — active 
thoughts — are concerned more directly with the 
visible human persons ; but persons it is, and 
Christian religion is in danger where legal ob- 
servance of some sort begins to crowd out the 
personal element, when all spiritual efforts are 
directed towards the scrupulous carrying out of 
a system of observances for their own sake without 
a personal purpose. 

1 St. Mark ii. 19, 20. 

b 2 


The spirit of Christianity, despite its ascetic 
purity, is diametrically opposed to such a material 
conception of the ethical life, and the temporary 
successes it may obtain are but the harbingers 
of final catastrophe. It is our Lord's exclusive 
privilege to be Law, or better still to be a substitu- 
tion for all law. The human mind is jealous of 
such a position because the human mind resents 
being bound to a person ; but as our Lord's Person 
is a Divine Person, as it is the second Person of the 
Trinity, the jealousy of the human mind is not 
warranted in the case of Christ. 

The Pharisees took umbrage at our Lord's 
Person much more than at His doctrine. Abstract 
laws or external observances never arouse hatred 
and jealousy, just as they do not arouse love and 
sympathy in the measure in which a person arouses 
those feelings. 

The great theological doctrines therefore con- 
cerning our Lord's Person have an intimate connec- 
tion with our Lord's spiritual position in the world, 
because our Lord is nothing if not a Personality. 
His Grace is nothing if not a grace of love and of 
mutual understanding. There is no profit from 
the Gospel unless it be the perfecting of the human 
mind and the human heart. A man may invent an 
ascetical system and find other men to submit to it, 
but no man can make of his own person the irre- 
vocable voice of conscience, the all-satisfying food of 


heart and mind. Our Lord is the only Person who 
ever could. 

No man can make of the relations of other men 
with their fellow men the badge of true disciple- 
ship ; our Lord is the only exception, and no one 
questions His authority and right to do it. The 
teachings therefore of Christian theology about our 
Lord's Person ought to be of intense interest to 
every follower of Christ, and His being a Divine 
Person should fill us with unbounded joy. 

The history of Christian sanctity shows in 
innumerable souls an intense personal love for 
Christ : such is the historical fact. The question 
may be asked whether such deep personal friendship 
with one that is not of this world would be at all 
possible if He were not a living Divine Personality. 
In other words, Is not the Personal Love of Christ 
such as history reveals it, a psychological proof of 
His Divine Reality ? 

One thing is certain : it does not exist elsewhere 
— the personalities of the non-Christian religions are 
not the elements of the human conscience such as 
Christ is. 

It would be a great mistake, therefore, to think 
that what we might call the metaphysical truths of 
the Hypostatical Union are barren and unpractical 
verities ; they are, on the contrary, indispensable to 
any rational explanation of our Lord's position with 
the human race. There is in Christ a kind of 


multiplicity of spiritual presence that makes Him 
the personal spiritual friend of millions of souls ; He 
has a kind of universality of presence and action, 
which interferes in no way with the intense in- 
dividuality of His relations with particular souls. 
Such is the Christ of experience and history. In 
His humanity He has for all practical purposes the 
illimitability of Divinity itself ; He is truly the 
Universal Friend, and yet no one ever was such 
an exclusively personal friend to individual members 
of the human race. 

Now, such intense individuality with such 
comprehensive universality has but one explana- 
tion : Hypostatic Union, or Divine Personality, 
the mystery of one human nature existing through 
God's personal existence. In our own days more 
than ever, philosophical minds dread the rule of 
a mere individual, however holy that individual 
may be. It does not seem as if an individual 
being could ever be such as to give satisfaction 
to the mind of a race. So we find constantly in 
modern theologies the substitution of the ideal 
for the individual. Such efforts at substitution 
are anything but blameworthy ; it is certain that 
no merely human individual could ever furnish 
a complete ideal for mankind, could ever be a life- 
giving, practical ideal for the human race. But, on 
the other hand, modern theologies are quite wrong 
in applying that process of substitution to Christ ; 


there is no need of substituting an ideal Christ 
for the historic Christ, precisely because the Christ 
of the Gospels, the Christ of Catholic theology, 
possesses in truth and reality an infinitude of 
Personality. There is no limitation in Him. With- 
out that infinitude of Personality, as far as the 
race is concerned, an ideal Christ would be indeed 
preferable to a concrete personal Christ. 

This is why I say that the great metaphysical 
principles underlying Hypostatic Union are of 
immense practical import. I do not mean that 
individual souls do make those great truths a 
practical study ; they simply possess Christ, and are 
happy in the possession. But for the philosophical 
mind that begins to consider Christ's position 
with mankind, the metaphysics of the Incarnation 
are indispensable. 



It may be said of our Lord that His written life 
is far from being proportionate to His place in 
the world of souls. To a very great extent love 
for Christ is independent of the Gospels taken 
as mere narratives. In most cases, love for Christ 
exists in the human soul long before the books 
of the New Testament have been taken up as a 
spiritual study. Children of tender years will 
kiss a crucifix with the reverence of deepest love, 
because it is the image of Christ ; and it would 
be an entire disregard of facts to say that the 
boy of six loves Christ so deeply because he has 
been made to understand the sublime charity of 
His Crucifixion from the gospel narrative. Long 
before the child is capable of understanding the 
great moral beauty of Christ's passion, he loves 
Christ crucified as sincerely as he loves his parents. 
A deeper comprehension of the love-drama of 
Christ's death is almost exclusively the achievement 


of more mature sanctity. Nor is this the peculiar 
characteristic of childhood's love for our Lord ; the 
observation holds good much more generally. What 
there is of living faith in Christ in this world is out 
of all proportion to what there is written of Him, 
and, still more, to what practical perusal there is 
even of the written documents. For millions of men 
and women Christ is a great living Personality, 
dominating their innermost thoughts ; yet with 
nearly all of them it is perfectly true to say that 
it is not the habitual perusal of the Gospels that 
has given to Him such a place in their soul. Their 
knowledge of the Gospel is not a very intimate one ; 
they are satisfied with its general facts, whilst 
Christ Himself is a very clear, very distinct power 
in their life. If the study of our Lord's written 
life is made a special spiritual practice by a Christian, 
it is because the Gospel speaks to him of One whom 
he loves and knows already, just as the lover takes 
the keenest interest in being told of the doings 
and movements of the person loved. 

It seems paradoxical, yet it is the experience 
of all observers of spiritual things : no one profits 
by the Gospels unless he be first in love with Christ. 
But this psychological fact may be stated in a yet 
more comprehensive form : The sacred Gospels 
are no adequate explanation of the place Christ 
holds in the hearts of men. They may account for 
the spiritual portrait of Christ which Christian men 


and women hold enshrined in their minds, but 
they do not account for the power with which Christ 
sways the hearts of millions. From time to time 
there are great Gospel enthusiasms passing over 
the Christian world. The sacred text is distributed 
broadcast in cheap editions ; sayings of Christ are 
seen everywhere ; even the very modern billposter 
is pressed into service to render Christ's sayings 
accessible to the man that runs. These manifesta- 
tions of zeal, however laudable, are generally short- 
lived precisely because they never succeed in 
stirring any deeper feeling. 

Great nations in Europe live in the faith and 
love of Christ, and it may safely be asserted that 
any textual knowledge of our Lord's sayings is 
conspicuous by its absence in the vast majority 
of the good Christians of those nations. Christ 
for them is not a text, but a living Person, whose 
presence and whose look is infinitely more drastic 
in its spiritual effect than any saying of His recorded 
in the Gospels ; and if the Gospel text is at times 
like the sword of fire to the soul, it is because it is 
connected with the living Presence, because it is 
read in the living love of Christ. 

On the other hand, it is true again to say that 
the Christ of the human soul is not greater than 
the Christ of the Gospels. It is easy enough, for 
instance, to see what Christ was to the soul of St. 
Teresa, to the soul of St. Catherine. Those great 


mystics have left very clear records of their faith in 
and their love for Christ. Yet the ' Divine Master ' 
of St. Teresa's writings is not greater than the 
' Master ' of the Gospels. St. Teresa did not create 
in her intense religious consciousness a Christ not 
warranted by the sober Gospel narrative. She 
may speak of the Spouse of her soul with greater 
enthusiasm than the Evangelist ; but she never says 
a greater thing than was said by the Evangelist. 

With Christ, the soberness of the narration 
belongs to the official historian who has lived with 
Him or His disciples. The enthusiasm is found in 
the ordinary worshipper to whom the work of the 
historian is more a canticle of love than a source 
of love. But the enthusiasm of the worshipper 
never assumes anything about Christ's merits 
which cannot be stated in the exact language of 
the Evangelist. 

It has been said with great truth of certain 
religions that they are like inverted pyramids 
standing on their apex. The basis is the thinnest 
part, and the monument broadens as it leaves the 
almost in visile starting-point. The religious con- 
sciousness of the race has evolved a vast religious 
personality from a being of much smaller compass. 
Now, such a comparison would be quite unfair with 
the position of Christ in the world. The Christ of our 
Eucharistic Congresses is not greater than the Christ 
of St. John's Gospel. With Him there is no gradual 


broadening of a religious ideal, till it covers the whole 
extent of the human mind. The Christianity of 
the Gospels is as broad as the Christianity of the 
Summa of St. Thomas. But where the dispropor- 
tion comes in is the efficacy and vividness of Christ's 
Personality as realised by human souls. No books, 
even divinely inspired, could create in the human 
consciousness such a presence of a living God-man, 
even if such books were constantly perused by the 

It is the conviction of all Christians that Christ 
enters into the secrets of their hearts, and that 
they are answerable to Him for their innermost 
thoughts. Christ is not only the object of their 
worship, He is also the voice of their conscience ; 
and more than that, He is their Judge, He is the 
umpire of their eternal destiny. Here again it 
could not be said that Christian conscience has 
evolved a Christ not warranted by the authentic 
records of Christianity. We have endless utterances 
in the sacred Gospels and the Apostolic writings 
stating most clearly Christ's judicial powers. ' For 
neither doth the Father judge any man, but hath 
given all judgment to the Son.' x 

It is the common teaching of theologians that 
there is in man a life that is inaccessible to the gaze 
even of the greatest spirits. God alone can read 
the secrets of the human heart ; it is the most 

1 St, John v t 22. 


incommunicable portion of our being ; it is there 
that we show practically our individuality. The 
stronger the man or the woman, the less ready is 
he or she to reveal' that inner self. Perhaps a 
man in his whole life finds only one other man to 
whom he opens the treasure-house of his thoughts, 
and it may even be asserted that most men go 
through life with their hearts sealed. Readiness 
to manifest one's innermost thoughts, unless it be 
to a mind entirely in sympathy with one's own and 
thoroughly trustworthy, is not a sign of manliness ; 
it belongs to the superficial, to people who have 
no deep life of their own. Now it is into that 
portion of our life that Christ, the Son of God and 
the Son of Man, has penetrated, according to 
invariable Christian conviction. It is impossible for 
a Christian to doubt the universality of Christ's 
knowledge as to the secrets of our hearts. Are we 
not habitually convinced of Christ's human way of 
discerning the secrets of our hearts ? For us it is 
essentially a human knowledge possessed in a human 
and created manner. To speak in metaphors, we 
know that every one of our thoughts falls into one 
of the scales of supreme justice, but the scales are 
Christ's human mind and human heart ; the im- 
pression made on the scales is a human impression 
— a created factor. Such is the Christ of practical 
Christian experience. 



Christ's Personality is all-important in the religion 
of Christ. ' Who is He ? ' and ■ What is He ? ' are 
vital questions for Christianity. A religion outside 
the circle of that wonderful personality may be a 
most respectable system of morals and even of 
doctrines, but it is not Christianity. It would 
always be Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. 
This English proverb is so telling that there is no 
profanity in using it in conjunction with the great 
drama of Christianity. 

Christian religion can never be put on a par 
with other religious systems, simply because it 
is not a system but a Person. It cannot come 
under the scope of the science called ' Comparative 
Religion ' because its central facts — those facts 
that constitute its differentiation from the other 
religions of the world — are the manifestation of a 
divine genius of infinite originality. Comparative 
religion is a branch of human learning I revere 


(deeply. I cannot conceive anything that could 
become more fascinating for the mind than to find 
out the parentage and relationship of the religious 
thoughts of mankind to their hundredth remove. 
But when all has been said, and everything has 
been compared, the fact remains that there is only 
one such being as Christ known to the religious 
world. Or more exactly, the \ Christ-idea/ such 
as it is found in the Gospels, in Christian theology 
and Christian conscience, is so deeply original that 
it defies all comparison. I say ' Christ-idea ' instead 
of ' Christ ' in order to remain within the scope of 
science. Science, being concerned with experiment 
and observation, can observe the Christ-idea in the 
world, as it is not a thing hidden under a bushel ; 
it is seen everywhere in the world of to-day ; it is 
the easiest of all tasks to find out from history what 
it was in the past. 

Nothing could show more clearly this deep 
originality of the Christ-idea and its unique position 
in the world of religion than the great religious 
strifes within the Christian pale itself that filled, and 
are still filling, the world with their shrill echoes. 
Is it at all a thinkable situation that Mohammedans, 
for instance, should quarrel amongst themselves 
as to whether there were one or two persons in 
their prophet, or whether the divine person in 
him had absorbed the human person ; whether 
there was a human will besides a divine will in 


him ; whether there was the transubstantiation 
of bread into his body, etc. ? . . . Yet Christians 
have taken, and are taking, sides in those very 
matters with a passion that comes from strong 
feeling on those subjects. Our very dissensions, 
therefore, make it evident that the Christ-idea 
has no parallel or term of comparison anywhere 
in the religions of the world. 

The science of war, on land and on sea, is a 
definite science. Books are written on it, and 
mastered by young officers. But a Napoleon and 
a Nelson are not merely instances of a complete 
mastering of the science of war, they are war 
geniuses who make epochs, who make the very 
science of war to be different from what it was 
before them. Such personalities cannot come 
properly within the definitions of any war system. 
So Christ cannot be classed by the science of Com- 
parative Religion because He is what He is in 
the religious world through His Personality. And 
as His Personality has such characteristics as cannot 
be found elsewhere, from the very nature of the 
subject, Christ is beyond all religious classification. 
Originality and classification exclude each other. 
Now, is there anything more deeply original than 
the Christ-idea ? No doubt there is much in the 
practical Christian religion that resembles the 
tenets and practices of other religious forms. There 
is in mankind a vast store of religiousness, which 


is part of human nature itself, or it may be derived 
from more simple and more universal forms of 
piety such as there were in some remote and 
primitive state of human society. Then there is the 
natural expression of religious fear and awe, which 
is very analogous to the dread exhibited by the 
higher animals for their master. There are again 
certain subtle laws of the human spirit in its 
higher operations, which laws will act almost 
similarly, whether the ascetic be a Buddhist or a 
Christian monk. Thus, for instance, the effort 
of thought will make use of the same external 
means, whether the spiritual man be in Tibet or 
in Spain. But such things are merely the basic 
elements of all asceticism. They are the things 
that may be classified by the student and compared 
amongst themselves and pigeon-holed. Being found 
everywhere, they lack originality. But the moment 
Christ comes on the scene, there is evidently some- 
thing quite new happening in the religious world. 

If I may once more press into service my com- 
parison of the war genius, the great soldier called 
Alexander or Napoleon fights with the old arms, 
with the time-honoured means of men, and horses, 
and weapons. Yet no man ever conquered as 
swiftly as Alexander, or struck as decisively as 
Napoleon. There is the old story of that martinet 
of an Austrian officer who maintained that Bonaparte 
was sure to be defeated because he did not follow 



the rules of war, such as the officer had learnt them 
in the military schools. 

Christ wins the spiritual battle by making use 
of the old, well-worn spiritual weapons ; but there 
never was a victory like His victory, because it 
consists in this, that He should ' draw all things 
unto Himself.' He establishes His Personality, 
and His success is complete then only, when men 
have begun to understand who He is and what He 
is. 'I have manifested Thy name to the men 
whom Thou hast given me out of the world : Thine 
they were, and to Me Thou gavest them ; and 
they have kept Thy word. Now they have known 
that all things which Thou hast given Me are from 
Thee : because the words which Thou gavest me 
I have given to them ; and they have received 
them, and have known in very deed that I came 
out from Thee, and they have believed that Thou 
didst send Me/ 1 

Spirituality is indeed indispensable to Christian 
sanctity ; but the essence of Christian sanctity 
is a personal relation with Christ's Personality. 
Spirituality is a common possession of all mankind ; 
it is mankind at its best, and therefore it is a 
necessary outfit for Christ's elect. At the same 
time there is a vast amount of genuine spirituality 
outside the Christian circle. I might say that 
even with the Christian soul its spirituality may 
1 St. John xvii, 6, 7, 8, 


be at times greater than its essential Christian 
sanctity, as there is no practical or theoretical 
contradiction in the supposition that the effort 
after spiritual life, even with good men, may be 
many times greater than their efforts at entering into 
personal relation with Christ's Personality. I might 
say even that they are spiritual men rather than 
definitely Christian men, if we take the word 
'Christian' to stand — as it ought to stand — for what 
is characteristically Christ's work. The practical 
realisation of the Christ-concept in the work of 
sanctity admits of infinite gradation even where 
there is Faith, and Hope, and Charity. 

The Christian world is most prosperous, then, 
when it possesses its Christ most fully. 

The principle of Christ's Personality once 
grasped changes one's spiritual life and lifts it 
up to a plane of wonderful supernaturalness. 
Spirituality itself may still be considered to be a 
common element. Life in Christ is the glorious 
secret of the new dispensation. 

c 1 



A great deal of man's happiness comes from the 
power of admiration. To admire something is 
like a stream of fresh water flowing over the soul's 
surface ; children are so happy because for them 
there is so much to wonder at. The deep solemnity 
of their untarnished eyes is the solemnity of wonder- 
ment. Woe to the man who has nothing to wonder 
at ! his soul has lost all freshness, and his eyes are 
lustreless and vacant. 

If at any time of our lives we cease to wonder, 
the fault must be all ours. The world in which 
God has placed man is an eternal wonder ; admira- 
tion is the only thing which establishes a kind of 
equality and proportion between man and the 
vast world in which man lives. We do not under- 
stand the marvels of the universe. We see very 
little of the universe ; we live, each one of us, 
in a very small corner of it ; the universe is not 
ours, but it becomes ours through admiration — 
being so immensely greater than ourselves, we 


wonder at it, and our wonder grows as the immensity 
of the universe opens out more and more to the 
ripening intelligence. What we lose in proportion 
we gain in admiration, and we feel all the happier 
through our wonderment. It is the saddest thing 
in the world to have one's lot cast with people 
who have lost the gift of admiration. It is the 
cruellest and darkest captivity of the heart ; it is 
external and internal darkness. It is the hardest 
purgatory of the soul ; it would be hell itself but 
for the hope that the day will come that will set 
us free from the companionship of the unwondering 
souls, and place us amongst the spirits whose life is 
unending admiration. Let me be surrounded with 
the young and the infants, whose every movement 
and every sound is the expression of some wonder- 
ment, and I shall feel that my heart swells 
again with a happiness it has not known since 

Christ the Son of God could never be man's 
eternal life if He were not man's eternal wonder. 
A Christ whom we could fully comprehend, whom 
we could understand through and through, could 
never be our life and our hope because we could not 
wonder at Him any more. It is an indispensable 
condition in all true and lasting admiration that 
the object of our admiration should always be 
greater than our knowledge of it, and that through 
the growth of knowledge, far from finding limits 


in the thing to be wondered at, we should be 
convinced more and more of the inaccessibility 
of those limits. 

Love, no doubt, is born from knowledge and 
understanding ; but short-lived and fragile would 
be the love which would be commensurate with 
knowledge and understanding. Love is best and 
strongest there where we know enough of a person 
to understand that there is in the person vastly 
more than we actually know. Every genuine and 
undying love lives not in the Holy of Holies, but 
merely in the Holy with its eyes fixed on the 
unapproachable Holy of Holies. 

We find strong love for Christ the Son of God, 
a love that is as fresh as a spring morning, as 
unchanging as the eternal hills, only where there is 
the belief in Christ's divine nature, because then 
alone the created spirit has a scope for endless 
wonderment. Love dies when it finds a limit ; 
limits are incompatible with love. If a good 
man's motive is explained to me, I shall wonder 
at his courage and unselfishness not so much on 
account of what he did, as on account of the 
character which the deed reveals. If I knew 
the man to be incapable of another such act, I 
could not love and admire him any more ; in fact, 
my sentiment towards him is shaped much more 
by what I suppose him to possess than by what I 
saw him do. To make of Christ a human being 


is to deprive Him of the attribute of incompre- 
hensibility ; sooner or later we shall understand 
Him fully. Such theology would be the cruellest 
thing, as it kills in the soul the most life-giving 
element of all religion — wonderment that is always 
old and always new. 

All admiration comes from depth. We admire 
what we know to be inexhaustible, unfathomable. 
It must be deep calling out to deep, if admiration 
is to be whole-hearted and overpowering. 

Our Lord is indeed the Wonderful because in 
Him deep calls out to deep, because in Him there 
is a succession of spiritual regions, the one more 
beautiful than the other. Our Lord is not some- 
thing simple, He is something very complex, some- 
thing very deep, and it is only unhealthy minds 
that require a simple Christ, so simple indeed as to 
leave Him without grace and divinity. The first 
article of the Christian creed concerning our Lord's 
Sacred Person is this : He is one Person in two 
Natures. This duality of natures, so indispensable 
to Christian theology, is the great wonder, is the 
thing that makes Christ wonderful, because through 
that duality deep calls out to deep. There is in 
Him a human nature full of grace and truth ; but 
when that human nature is searched into, it gives 
at once evidence of something deeper still — the 
divine nature. But this duality is merely the 
shortest possible expression for multiplicities of 


beauty which Catholic theology has undertaken 
to describe. Our Lord has all the perfections of 
man, He has the perfections of Divinity itself, 
and He has a perfection which is all His own — 
something between angelic perfection and Divinity. 
Those gradations of perfection, I repeat, unhealthy 
minds reject as burdensome ; they crave for a 
simple Christ, but the simplicity they crave for is 
more the characterless transparency of common 
glass than the wonderful power of the hard diamond 
with its innumerable facets and its scintillating 
multiplicity. This gradation of perfections in our 
Lord's Person, so noticeable in Catholic theology 
on our Lord, is what makes Him so wonderful, 
because it is deep calling out to deep ; or, to change 
the metaphor, it is mountains rising up higher and 
higher, and when you have reached one summit 
you find yourself at the foot of another giant 
amongst the mountains. So we find in practice 
that the most innocent and most loving of Christ's 
faithful revel in the theology of Christ's duality of 
natures, because a simple and loving follower is 
a born admirer, and his only fear is lest perchance 
a day might come when he could not admire any 
more. In this spirit then let us try to understand 
the wonderful multiplicity of Christ's perfections 
such as it is taught by Catholic theology. 

In following the teachings of Catholic theology 
concerning our Lord's Person we are like the 


explorer whose mission it is to find out the course 
of a river. There are two ways of doing it. Sailing 
first for days on the endless expanse of the ocean, 
he comes to the mouth of some mighty Amazon, 
where it is difficult for a long time to distinguish 
the river from the ocean. Up he sails towards 
the river's source, borne onward by the inflowing 
tide as it contends for mastery with the current. 
After many days of journeying the river will 
lose to him its individuality ; it is not one, 
but many rivers he has to explore ; it is the water- 
shed he is interested in more than in the individual 
river. Or, if the traveller chooses, he may begin 
his expedition on the mountain-top, follow one 
course, go down with it to the main stream, sailing 
down the main stream in the consciousness that 
sooner or later he will find himself entering the 
boundless ocean. There is a particular joy in the 
anticipation that the stream that carries him will 
become a limitless sea. 

This second way of exploring would be more 
conducive to admiration than the first, because 
a traveller thus progressing from the mountain 
spring towards the ocean, passes from marvel unto 
marvel till all the marvels are merged in the marvel- 
lous ocean. This last simile represents the natural 
mode for man to find out the marvels of the Son 
of God. There is first His external human life ; 
it is the mountain stream, fresh, powerful, of 


heavenly transparency, running in the deep ravines 
of His human sufferings. This mountain stream 
of the mortal life is absorbed by His spiritual 
life, His sanctifying grace, His angelic perfections 
of intellect, His glorified body ; this again, vast and 
infinite though it be, is absorbed finally by a much 
greater infinitude — the infinitude of His Divinity. 

St. Thomas acts not as the second but as the 
first explorer : he begins from the ocean, the 
Divinity, and follows up the great system of waters 
to the human sources of Christ's life. A glance 
at the disposition of the questions and articles in 
the third part of the Summa shows clearly the 
movements of this great theological explorer. He 
begins with Hypostatic Union — the presence of the 
Infinite Godhead in Christ ; then he speaks of 
Christ's sanctifying grace, of Christ's supernatural 
virtues. He speaks of Christ's grace as the head 
of the human race ; he speaks of Christ's knowledge, 
angelic and human ; he speaks of the human 
power of Christ's soul, of His prayer, of His priest- 
hood, of His adoption, of His predestination, of 
His adoration, of His mediation. It is still the 
main stream with the tidal movements of the ocean 
mixing with its waters and swelling them. Then 
he comes to the human life : Christ's virginal 
conception, His nativity, His baptism, His doctrine, 
His miracles, His passion, His death, His ascension, 
His resurrection. 


I must crave the reader's indulgence for keeping 
his attention to the simile of a water-course. In 
order to be fully applicable to the present subject, 
instead of supposing a system of converging streams 
that come down from the mountain, we ought to 
suppose a system of streams flowing on level land 
so that the tides might come up to the very spring 
of the most humble brook. Nature has no such 
water system as far as I know ; if it had, it would 
be a splendid illustration of a great mystery : the 
merely human actions of our Lord, besides flowing 
towards the infinitude of the Divinity, are con- 
stantly being swelled by the tidal movements of 
Divinity rushing along the channels of the human 
actions, and mixing with the waters of human 
sanctity. The stream that is a tidal stream has 
a double nature, so to speak : first there are the 
stream's own waters, and then there are the waters 
of the sea, carried along the native waters of the 
stream. So in the Wonderful there are many 
streams flowing into streams, but over them all 
there flow the waters of Divinity. No doubt it is 
this penetration of Divinity into every human act 
of Christ that compelled St. Thomas to adopt the 
method of exploration from sea to land. 

I shall adopt the same method here for the 
instruction of those for whom this little treatise is 
written ; the devotional method, however, which 
is essentially the wondering method, begins with 


our Lord's human life, begins with the ' Hail, full 
of Grace ' and from the Virgin Mother, the sweet 
daughter of David. Then it journeys to the Word 
who dwells in the bosom of the Father, going from 
sweetness unto sweetness. It is not the only 
instance where the theoretical presentment of 
heavenly things follows an opposite course to that 
of the practical realisation of those things. 



The word ' personality ' is a word to conjure with 
in our own days. The power of personality is the 
theme of every good work of fiction as well as of 
every good biography. A theological writer is of 
all writers the one who might be seen biting his quill 
for long moments of embarrassment for lack of the 
proper word, as society has taken his word from 
him and given it a different meaning. The term 
' personality ' holds as great a place in theology as 
in literature, but the roles it acts are vastly different. 
It is true that the more modern meaning of person- 
ality — a powerful individualistic character — is not 
unwelcome to a theologian, as his Christ is the most 
winsome of all persons ; but he has a much older 
right to the term ' personality/ and in his attempt to 
explain Christ's attractiveness he has to delve down 
in the hidden mysteries of much more austere 
concepts, and personality is winsome because it is 
something so solid ; and it is with this view of 
personality, as the austere foundation of being, that 
the theologian is primarily concerned. 


Locke's definition, or rather description, of 
' person ' is as good as any other, outside the Aristo- 
telian and scholastic sphere of thought. ' This 
being premised to find wherein personal identity 
consists, we must consider what person stands for. 
Which, I think is a thinking intelligent being, that 
has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as 
itself, the same thinking thing in different times and 
places ; which it does only by that consciousness 
which is inseparable from thinking, and as it seems 
to me, essential to it : it being impossible for any- 
one to perceive without perceiving that he does 
perceive.' l 

With Locke, the orthodox theologian says ' that 
a person is (essentially) a thinking, intelligent being ; 
that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself, 
as itself, the same thinking thing in different times 
and places.' The scholastic applies a similar defini- 
tion to Deity itself, to the pure angelic spirit and to 
man. Yet, to the scholastic mind, Locke's defini- 
tion of a person is not adequate. The scholastic 
asks with Locke why is it that a thinking being can 
think of itself, as itself, and it is his answer to that 
question that shows in him the deeper metaphysi- 
cian. The English philosopher says that a thinking 
being thinks of itself, as itself, ' by that consciousness 
which is inseparable from thinking.' 

Locke makes consciousness the reason of self- 

1 Locke on Human Understanding, book ii. c. 27. 


consciousness, which is evidently a tautology. It 
is as if I defined my power of running through that 
movement that makes me run. The scholastic, 
though defining a person a thinking being, with self- 
consciousness (' to consider itself as itself ' is another 
expression for self -consciousness), has a deeper 
underlying metaphysical element which saves him 
from Locke's tautology, and it is that deeper under- 
lying element which is the cause, so to speak, that 
makes the individual person. Self -consciousness, 
deep and mysterious as it is, is not so deep and so 
mysterious as self -being. The first is merely a result 
of the second. Now, the scholastic maintains that 
self-being underlies self-consciousness, as the cause 
underlies its effect, and he says that a person is 
constituted primarily through self-being, through the 
fact of having one's being as an exclusive and total 

We all know Tennyson's immortal verses 
describing the gradual formation of the individual 
self -consciousness . 

The baby new to earth and sky, 

What time his tender palm is prest 
Against the circle of the breast, 

Has never thought that ' this is I : ' 

But as he grows he gathers much, 

And learns the use of 'I,' and ' me,' 
And finds ' I am not what I see, 

And other than the things I touch.' 


So rounds he to a separate mind, 

From whence clear memory may begin, 
As thro' the frame that binds him in 

His isolation grows defined. 

This use may lie in blood and breath, 

Which else were fruitless of their due, 
Had man to learn himself anew 

Beyond the second birth of Death. 

In Memofiam, xlv. 

Yet this very evolution of the thought of the 
isolated ' I ' supposes an isolated possession of 
existence at the start. Now it is that perfect 
appropriation of being by the ' 1/ long before 
there is a conscious distinction of oneself from 
other beings, the scholastic considers as the thing 
that makes a person. Scholastics are divided 
amongst themselves how to explain such an exclusive 
appropriation of being. Such differences of opinion 
cannot detract from the metaphysical value of 
the main principle, that a person is radically and 
eternally sui juris, a rational being with rights, 
and responsibilities, and duties that can never 
be shifted on to some one else's shoulders. Person- 
ality means incommunicable appropriation for 
weal and for woe of one's deeds. The highest 
manifestation of personality is moral merit and 
moral demerit, the fact through which a free act 
of the rational will is so entirely the property 
of the rational agent that God Himself cannot 
be held responsible for it, in the last instance, 


without contradicting Himself. Moral responsibility 
is well calculated to open out to us a view of the 
might of personality. Let us think for one moment 
that both highest bliss in heaven and profoundest 
misery in hell are states for a spirit which God 
Himself could not transfer to another spirit without 

Self-consciousness — the pet metaphysical reality 
of modern philosophies — is not so deep and so 
permanent a thing as moral responsibility, that all- 
important factor of Christian philosophy. A man 
may be perfectly conscious of his doing a certain 
act without his being responsible for it, as there 
is the possibility of his not having been a free 
agent in the matter. 

The fact of moral responsibility is the most 
immediate result of the element that makes a person. 
Moral responsibility is not that element itself, 
but it is its firstfruit — its direct result. In moral 
responsibility we show that we have our being in 
our own hand. How could I ever be made to 
answer eternally for an act of mine, if that act 
were not mine with the exclusion of every other 
moral or ethical partnership ? 

Self-consciousness is near the root of our being, 
but it is not the root yet, and there is even the 
possibility of the act of which I am conscious not 
being all my own act. 

Moral responsibility is much nearer that root, 



for it implies in the last instance an exclusion of 
every other created will in my act of will. But it is 
not the root yet, just as will is not the whole man, 
the whole spirit. It springs from the root, and the 
root itself is personality. For a person is essentially 
a rational being that has responsibility, or, anyhow, 
may acquire it in time. 

Moral responsibility is to my mind the natural 
key to the mystery of personality. 

It may be objected that moral responsibility 
is too theological a fact to be made into a starting- 
point for the quest of personality, chiefly moral 
responsibility that stretches into the next world. 
My answer is that I am writing a theological book, 
not a philosophical one, for people to whom moral 
responsibility, implied in the words ' merit ' and 
1 guilt/ is an intellectual certainty. 

Moral responsibility and self -consciousness 
almost seem to touch in the phenomenon of the 
consciousness of duty, of the conviction — intellectual 
if there ever was one — embodied in the notion : I 
ought. Yet the two things, though converging, 
are still different. Moral responsibility is a fact 
quite independent of inner consciousness, or rather 
we know that we have the merit as well as the 
guilt of our practical answers to the ' I ought ' 
as we have followed the voice or have disobeyed it. 

There is an old scholastic axiom, ' Actiones sunt 
suppositorum ' — ' Acts belong to the person/ 


Nothing could be truer, if we bear in mind the 
mystery of personal responsibility for our deeds. 

I should describe personality as that reality 
within the creature that makes the creature's 
acts to be entirely his acts, with their full responsi- 
bility — a responsibility stretching into eternity. 
It matters comparatively little how we explain 
that great appropriation of being that under- 
lies responsibility. That it is a wonderful and 
potent reality is clear to all those who admit moral 
responsibility. That it is a reality that pervades and 
dominates our whole being is again manifest from 
the results of responsibility, which affects our whole 
life, for weal or for woe. It is necessarily what 
schoolmen call a ' substantial ' reality, a reality that 
is not merely accidental but one that is co-extensive 
with the individual being itself. 

Before leaving this chapter I must say a few more 
things in order to remove certain misgivings that 
might arise in our minds at the hearing of some 
expressions made use of here as, for instance, 
1 appropriation of being/ ' exclusive possession of 
being/ ' exclusive responsibility of one's moral 
acts.' Is it not the first rudiment of piety to 
believe firmly that our being is the property of God, 
from whom we have received it ; that our good 
acts, chiefly of the higher, the supernatural order, 
are the doings of the Spirit of God within our own 
created will ? 

' D 2 


The answer to such difficulties will be a further 
illustration of the greatness of created person- 
ality. Nothing is truer than the fact that all 
our being comes from God, by creation. But 
God's creative power is, so to speak, at its best 
in the production of a being that is so complete 
as to have a responsibility all of its own, just as 
God has responsibility. Pantheism, which means 
emanation of things from God, as opposed to 
creation of things ex nihilo, is warded off most 
conclusively by that duality of responsibility. 
That God should be able to produce outside 
Himself a being whose very constitution brings 
about within itself a responsibility that may put it 
eternally into opposition to the God that created 
it is the greatest achievement of God's creative 
power. So likewise with the share of God's grace 
in our moral acts, both natural and supernatural. 
No amount of divine influxus will ever take away 
the fact that it is my own act. St. Thomas would 
say that the divine influxus is of such a nature 
as to make my act more mine than ever. Such 
is his constant answer to objections about the 
preservation of free will under the divine influxus. 
Just as God's creative act at its highest results 
in a personality distinct from Him, so God's elevat- 
ing act — this is a good expression for the super- 
natural influxus of grace — results in a meritorious 
deed that is the free will's own glory. 


I have said already that even amongst school- 
men there are accidental divergences of opinion 
as to the precise definition of that far-reaching 
element in the created being that makes for absolute 
duality between God and His rational creature, 
even when God fills His creature with the graces 
of His own Spirit. 

The older philosophy takes a personality to 
be something entitatively static. The modern 
philosophies make it into something that is 
practically all dynamic. 

The older philosophy has the great advantage 
over its modern sister that it does the one thing 
and omits not the other. It allows for all that 
love of life which is the characteristic of dynamic 
philosophy. The older philosophy grants all and 
every one of the transient phenomena of psychic 
life postulated by modern thought. But behind 
the phenomena of conscious life there are for the 
schoolmen the static and stable elements from 
which life with its endless variations flows, and 
which give it continuity and oneness. 

Personality is one of those static elements ; 
perhaps it is the principal static element ; it is 
the centripetal power in our very complex 
individualities — centripetal precisely because it is 
static. Such stability is not only perfectly recon- 
cilable with the perennial flow of our conscious 
psychic life ; it is its salvation, just as the deep 


banks of a river keep the river from becoming a 
nondescript swamp. Or better still, personality, 
the static thing in man, is to consciousness, the 
dynamic thing in man, what the mighty mountain 
range is to the stream : in its soaring solitude and 
unbending solidity flows the winding stream with 
all the charm of its rippling motion and babbling 

Before concluding the chapter I want to 
emphasise once more that the thing which I call 
moral responsibility is not personality itself, but 
that it is an element of personality, and in its 
brightest manifestation responsibility allows us a 
deep plunging peep into the abysmal mystery of 



It is the oldest and truest expression of the 
philosophy of the Incarnation to say that in Christ 
there is no human personality, but that the human 
personality in Him has been ' replaced ' by Divine 
Personality. The great struggles of orthodoxy 
against Nestorianism resulted in the adoption of 
this formula by the Church. Christ is a human 
individual nature, without a human personality ; 
in Him the Divine Personality of the Word does 
the functions of the human personality, and it 
does infinitely more, as behoves a Divine Personality. 
The maintenance and reality of the one individual 
human nature, detached as it were from its congenital 
and native element of created personality, and 
endowed with Divine Personality, is another dogmatic 
result, brought about by the Church's long strife 
with Eutychianism and its various ramifications. 
The separability of personality from the individual 
rational nature by Divine Omnipotence, and its 


' replacement ' by a Divine Personality, must 
always be factors of Christian metaphysics, if our 
system of thought be such as to allow for Hypostatic 

Any sanctification, any unction of the Spirit, 
any supernatural grace that is not a substitution 
of human personality in Christ by the Personality 
of the Word, is not Incarnation, is not Hypostatic 
Union ; it is merely one of the ordinary works of 
supernatural grace. There are no limits to the 
powers of the Holy Ghost, to the ways in which He 
may elevate the rational creature above its own 
plane to a similarity with God. But sanctifying 
grace carried to its millionth power could no more 
be Hypostatic Union than extreme cultivation of 
voice in me could be a training of my mathematical 
powers. Hypostatic Union is a marvel of a different 
order, though not so different as not to be found in 
the same rational being, as not to have certain 
secret affinities with it. 

Hypostatic Union requires first of all the absence 
of a congenital element in the individual nature : 
its native created personality. All the other 
supernatural elevations, worked by the Holy Ghost, 
far from starting with the absence of some natural 
endowment, presuppose on the contrary every 
native perfection and responsibility. 

The missing, or rather discarded created element, 
finite personality, is not elevated or glorified by 


the Holy Ghost, but it is ' replaced ' directly by a 
reality of the same order but of infinite altitude, the 
Personality of the Word. The ideas contained in 
the terms ' elevation ' and ' replacement ' express 
well the mutual relation of ordinary sanctification, 
even of the highest order, and Hypostatic Union. 
The Holy Ghost elevates to a higher plane the 
existing realities of the rational creature in ordinary 
sanctification. In Hypostatic Union the Second 
Person of the Trinity takes the place of a created 
element that ought to be there under ordinary 
circumstances, but has been left out to give place 
to an infinitely adorable substitute. 

Such replacement could never come about, in 
a creature, unless the replacing Personality were 
Infinitude itself. 

First, infinite power is required to interfere in a 
created being with the element of personality, for 
only a God of infinite creative power could make 
a responsible personality exist outside Himself ; 
personality is God's divinest work, and as He alone 
places it within the creature, He alone can give it 
a substitute. 

Secondly, such replacement requires what I 
might call Infinitude of subtleness on the part of 
the Person, thus superseding inside an individual 
created nature its congenital personality. 

Thirdly, there must be in the replacing Person- 
ality an Infinitude of personal worth, precontaining 


in its oneness all the created personal worth possible. 
By personal worth I mean here the worth that 
accrues to an individual rational nature from its 
privilege of being such and such a person, with 
respective rights and responsibilities that stretch 
into eternity. Now, our masters in theology are 
far from being blind to the fact that not to possess 
its native congenital personality would be to the 
rational nature an immense disadvantage, un- 
less the substitute be not only infinite, but also 
such as to precontain in itself what it comes to 

Suppose it to be a metaphysical possibility 
that my personality might be replaced, say, by the 
personality of a high spirit, it would be doubtful 
whether I should be the gainer or the loser. A 
finite spirit could never replace within me a con- 
genital, essential element of my being without my 
being less myself. 

But with the second Person of the Trinity, in 
whom all things are as in their eternal prototype, 
Christ's humanity has acquired boundless riches 
of personal worth, though it be without a created 
personality. For Divine Personality is infinitely 
congenital to it. Nothing short of this replacement 
or substitution by Divine Personality of created 
personality will do justice to the traditional view 
of Christ, the Son of God. I make so bold as to 
say that Hypostatic Union, thus stated with 


theological exactness, is indeed worthy of the 
admiration of the keenest intellect. The whole 
difficulty resolves itself into this question : Is it 
possible for Infinite Personality to do inside an 
individual created nature the function of finite 
personality ? 

It is in this, and in no other sense, that God is 
said to become man. 

No doubt many minds, unacquainted with 
Christian theology, think of a transformation of 
Godhead into manhood when they hear the phrase, 
and they naturally revolt at it at once. Their 
mental recoil would be more than justified if 
incarnation were such a transformation. 

But that the phrase should mean, as it does 
mean, that Divine Personality ' does duty ' within 
a human nature, for a created personality they 
seem hardly to realise ; yet it puts quite a different 
face on the matter. 

Other theologies, still admitting an incarnation, 
at their best speak of a mere indwelling of Godhead 
in the Man Christ, an indwelling of indefinite 
character, and bristling with metaphysical diffi- 
culties, when one comes to probe it. 

Catholic theology, the child of the great councils 
of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, by adopting 
the ' replacement ' of personality by Personality, 
whilst giving the link that unites Godhead and 
manhood in Christ — a link that is almost palpable — 


has not burdened man's intellect with a revolting 
metaphysical novelty. 

That there are within the human individuum 
separabilities, if not actual separations of realities, 
is practically admitted by every serious system of 
philosophy. No philosopher could dream of man 
as of a non-composite being. Our dogma goes, it 
is true, to the root-separabilities, and thinks of 
Deity as being capable of replacing certain created 
elements without there arising pantheistic results. 



The present chapter is written in order to explain 
how the concept of a Divine Person absorbing and 
replacing the individual human nature in Christ 
would be pantheistic, whilst there is no pantheism, 
but a most glorious assertion of God's ' personal- 
ness/ in the replacement of human personality by the 
Personality of the Word. It is the oldest and most 
sacred of Christian dogmas that with this mysterious 
substitution of personality, Christ's human nature 
is as entire and as intact as my own nature. He is 
as perfectly human as I am. His humanity has 
indeed been immensely elevated by every kind of 
supernatural grace, but it has not been replaced 
— nothing in it has been superseded. How an 
individual nature is a distinct reality from per- 
sonality I have already explained. Therefore 
there remains the necessity of showing how the 
Incarnation could never be a substitution of nature 
without its giving rise to monstrous philosophical 


consequences, whilst there are no such alarming 
results with the substitution of personality. 

Nature is essentially the stream of life, born in 
the mountain fastnesses. It is all movement, all 
activity, all consciousness. Modern philosophies, 
being essentially dynamic and phenomenalist, are 
nature philosophies ; they are hardly ever per- 
sonality philosophies ; they only busy themselves 
with modes of acting, without bothering about 
modes of being, and in their own generation they 
have been wise enough. Now, the idea of a stream 
suggests to me a comparison, which I think very 
useful in this most abstruse matter. Engineering 
skill has replaced for many a stream, at least 
sectionally, its original banks with artificial banks. 
There is no end to the power of the engineer ; if 
he be given time and money, he might replace the 
banks of the Rhine with a stone dyke from Switzer- 
land down to the North Sea. But no engineer, 
with an empire to finance him, will ever replace 
the stream itself by one of his own invention. 
The birth of streams belongs to the unalterable 
cosmic laws. I must crave the reader's pardon 
for suggesting an analogy between man's mechanical 
achievements and this most spiritual subject, 
Hypostatic Union. But have we not a great 
authority to justify the use of similitudes ? ' And 
with many such parables He spoke to them the 
word, according as they were able to hear.' 1 
1 St. Mark iv. 33. 


Let the stream stand for individual nature. 
That God should in His own Person be personality 
to it is like replacing the original banks of the 
river with a more durable one. But that Godhead 
should replace nature itself would mean that 
the river is no longer the river it was ; it has lost 
its identity. It would not be a stream of life 
that comes from earthly sources ; it would be 
simply an outflow of Divinity. 

But to return to more exact thought, life cannot 
be replaced by a Higher Life ; thought cannot be 
replaced by Higher Thought ; consciousness cannot 
be replaced by Higher Consciousness : but life, and 
thought, and consciousness may be appropriated 
by a Higher Owner. The function of nature is 
to live; the function of personality is to own. 



The text that I chose for the title of this chapter 
is one of the many passages of the Gospel narratives 
that show how even medieval theology, with all its 
high metaphysics of the Incarnation, never goes 
beyond the theology of the Evangelist himself. 
It may state the matter in terms different from 
those of the inspired writer, but it does not state 
anything beyond the inspired writer's expression. 

The above text is quite clear ; its authority 
is undoubted ; the Jews saw the purport of Christ's 
solemn asseveration : He gave Himself the age 
of the Deity itself. They pick up stones to punish 
the blasphemy there and then. 

The declaration of His having unchanging 
divine existence, implied in the words ' Before 
Abraham was made, I am/ was not, humanly speak- 
ing, directly intended by Christ, but was brought 

1 St. John viii. 581 


about by the allusion of the Jews to the death of 
Abraham and to Christ's comparative youth. It 
was the Jews, not Christ, who introduced the subject 
of Abraham. The unexpected turn the contro- 
versy took shows how clear to Christ's consciousness 
was the realisation of His own superiority to time 
and space. I now quote a casual remark of St. 
Thomas, which he makes in connection with some- 
thing else, but which shows that the mind of the 
great theologian habitually moved in a sphere which 
I might call the sphere of St. John's Gospel. The 
doctrine contained in the remark is an intellectual 
consequence of the metaphysical principle laid 
down by St. Thomas for the understanding of the 
Hypostatic Union. Yet intellectual consequence 
though it be, it is a natural commentary on the 
Gospel text quoted above. ' Although the human 
nature in Christ be something new, nevertheless 
the personality of that human nature is not new, 
but eternal. And as the name "God" is predicated 
of the man (Christ) not in virtue of the human 
nature, but in virtue of the personality, it does 
not follow that in the Incarnation we introduce 
a new God. But such a consequence would follow, 
if the man (in Christ) had a created personality, 
as those who put two persons in Christ (Nestorians) 
would be compelled to speak.' x Before Abraham 
was made, Christ is, because eternal Personality 
1 Quest, 16, art, 2, ad 3 urn, 


has replaced created personality. The thing re- 
presented by the term ' is ' belongs to personality. 
Christ had eternal Personality, therefore He is 

Christ's human nature did not exist from 
eternity ; it was formed in Mary's womb. But 
it exists in virtue of an eternal existence, the Divine 
Personality. Suppose a man had lost his eyes or 
his hand ; suppose the eyeball or the hand to be 
restored to him by Divine Power — it is certain 
that the eye or the hand would be much younger 
than the man's main organism. At the same 
time the new members would share the age of the 
whole organism, as they share its general vitality 
and power of existence. This comparison is used 
by St. Thomas in order to express how there is 
oneness of being, oneness of existence, and therefore 
oneness of age in Christ's Personality, though there 
be in Him the human element inserted at a given 
period of history into the vitalities of Divine 
Personality. 1 

The seventeenth question, from which the 
comparison is taken, is what may be considered 
the sublimest height of the metaphysics of the 
Incarnation. It contains two articles, and the 
second article is the climax of speculative thought : 
' Whether there be only one "to be " in Christ/ The 
answer is in the affirmative. 

1 Quest. 17, art, 2» 


The replacement of personality which I have 
spoken of is the definition of Christian councils. 
It would be a sufficient formula to enable us to 
state the mystery. St. Thomas has drawn all his 
conclusions from that great ecclesiastical definition. 
All our views of Christ, all our love for Him, are 
not only modified by it, but actually born of it. 
But when St. Thomas begins to raise the question 
whether there is only one existence, one ' to be/ in 
Christ, he evidently dares a high thing, more than 
seemed to be originally authorised by the language 
of the councils. Yet an affirmative answer to the 
question is the only thing that does justice to words 
like those of the text : ' Amen, Amen, I say to you, 
Before Abraham was made, I am/ That human 
organism that speaks, IS, exists, has being in virtue 
of the existence that is Eternity itself, just as the 
miraculously restored eye lives in virtue of the 
life of the old organism. For St. Thomas, the con- 
clusion that eternal existence is the existence of 
the nature formed in Mary's womb seems to offer 
no difficulties. He arrives at it as calmly as you 
arrive at the conclusion that you want food when 
you are hungry. Existence follows personality, he 
says ; for it is only a personality that makes a 
rational nature exist finally. Now, Christ's human 
nature has Divine Personality ; therefore it has 
Divine Existence. It is God, because it exists 
through God's existence. Such is the meaning 

E 2 


of that wonderful second article of quest. 17. 
Its calmness is as surprising as its speculative 
sublimity. Like the Divine Master who thought 
it no profanation to utter the words, ' Before 
Abraham was born, I am/ in spite of the uproarious 
tumult it raised amongst the Pharisees, St. Thomas, 
the great master of theology, thinks it no exaggera- 
tion to say that Christ's humanity has the same 
existence with the eternal God. After all, it is a 
smaller truth than to say that it has the same 
personality with the eternal God. 



St. Thomas (second question) asks himself this 
question : Is Hypostatic Union natural to Christ 
as man ? One sees the meaning of his interrogation. 
We have said that Hypostatic Union is nothing 
else than the personal existence of the Word, being 
directly the existence of Christ's soul, and of 
Christ's body. 

The question, then, of St. Thomas is this : How 
far is this union between Divine Personality and 
human nature natural to the human part of our 
Lord's Person? 

First of all, it could not be natural in the sense of 
its flowing as it were from the human, the created 
part of Christ ; a creature of whatever rank could 
never have in itself the power of such a union. 

It all comes from above. There is, however, 
another point of view. Our Lord's human part never 
was without that divine existence ; neither His soul 
nor His body existed even for one instant in an un- 
divine way ; and it is on that account that it may be 


said that Hypostatic Union is natural to Our Lord as 
man, because as man He never knew any other sort 
of existence. It does not seem to imply contra- 
diction that an adult human personality should be at 
a given moment hypostatically united with a divine 
person. But in that case, Hypostatic Union could 
not be called natural, as it succeeded a created 
human personal existence, and the Mother of that 
hypostatically assumed human nature could not 
truly be called the Mother of God. Our Lady, on 
the contrary, is truly the Mother of God, because 
Her Child never existed otherwise than as the Son 
of God. 

However, we have not exhausted the subject 
yet. There is one more way for our Lord's human 
nature to be naturally divine, more excellent than 
the mere fact of His never having been anything 
but divine. It is this. The mode of Our Lord's 
formation in the womb of His Blessed Mother was 
such that the result had to be human nature with 
divine existence. She conceived from the Holy 
Ghost, and conception from the Holy Ghost is 
necessarily the origin of a nature that must have 
divinity. So Our Lord as man is naturally God, 
because the way in which He was conceived admits 
of nothing else. 

This is clearly expressed in the archangel's 
message to Our Lady. ' The Holy Ghost shall 
come upon thee, and the Power of the Most High 


shall overshadow thee, and therefore also the 
Holy that shall be born of thee shall be called the 
Son of God.' He shall be called the Son of God, 
precisely because the Holy Ghost will overshadow 
her, so that Our Lord as man is God, in virtue of 
his conception through the Holy Ghost. 

It might be said therefore that in Hypostatic 
Union the human nature is as divine as divine can 
be, not only because it always has been divine, but 
it is divine because, through the laws of the 
conception, it had to be divine. 

1 The grace of the (Hypostatic) Union is natural 
to Him in His humanity according to a propriety 
of His Nativity, as He was thus conceived from the 
Holy Ghost, that one and the same person should 
be naturally the Son of God and the Son of Man.' * 

We ought never to think of Christ's humanity as 
in any way separable from His Divinity, as prior to 
it, or as being the object of a predestination by itself. 
It was always divine, and according to St. Paul's 
energetic expression ' Christ Jesus . . . being in 
the form of God, thought it not robbery to be 
equal with God.' a There seems to be no inherent 
contradiction in the supposition that a living, 
grown-up human person might be united with a 
divine person hypostatically at a given moment. 
Human personality, then, would be ' swallowed up ' 
by Divine Personality. But such a union would 

1 Quest. 2, Art, 12. I Phil. ii. 6. 


differ in many things from the Hypostatic Union 
that is in Christ. The greatest difference, a differ- 
ence which perhaps would constitute an infinite 
difference, would be this, that in such a supposition 
the human nature would not be divine by the very 
laws of its conception and birth. 

The hypothesis would safeguard Hypostatic 
Union, but it would not be Christianity, and the 
mother of the privileged human being would not 
be the Mother of God ; she would be the mother 
of a man who became God, which is a totally 
different thing. The Church in her struggle with 
Nestorianism established the doctrine not only of 
the substitution of Divine Personality for human 
personality in Christ, but also the title of Mary 
to divine maternity, because her Son was conceived 
in such a wise as to be necessarily God. 

In my hypothesis the man thus elevated to 
Hypostatic Union, though truly the Son of God, 
would owe endless gratitude to God for the favour. 
In the Hypostatic Union that is in Christ it could 
not be said that Christ's humanity owes a debt of 
gratitude for its privilege. It has Divine Person- 
ality, divine existence through the laws of its 
birth J ' Propter proprietates Nativitatis ipsius/ as 
St. Thomas says in the article I have cited. 

Nothing short of Hypostatic Conception can 
give us a complete idea of Christ. His flesh is all 
divine, and from the very beginning of the Nestorian 


controversies, the champions of orthodoxy appealed 
to the mystery of Christ's body in the Eucharist as 
an argument in favour of the personal union, from 
the very start, in Christ. ' This very fact that we 
acknowledge that the only begotten Son of God 
died in His flesh, rose and ascended into heaven, 
qualifies us for offering the unbloody sacrifice in 
the Church and, by participating in the holy flesh 
and precious blood of the Redeemer, for receiving 
the mystical blessing so as to be sanctified. We 
receive it not as a common flesh, nor as the flesh of 
an eminently sanctified man, or of one who has 
received dignity by being united with the Logos 
or by divine indwelling, but as the true life-giving 
and proper flesh of the Word. For since He is, 
as God is, in His own nature life, and is become 
One with His own flesh, so has He imparted to this 
flesh a life-giving power.' 1 This profession of faith, 
formulated in the council of Alexandria a.d. 430 
under the presidency of St. Cyril, preparatory 
to the great Ephesine council, shows how clear and 
definite the views of Christian thinkers were as to 
the extent of Christ's divineness. 

There is one more consideration that finds a 
natural place here : St. Thomas says 2 that Hypo- 
static Union is something created. This doctrine, 
strongly emphasised by Aquinas, whilst containing 

1 Hefele, History of Councils, in, 30, 
a Quest. 2, art. 7. 


a world of wisdom, might be easily misleading, as 
implying apparently an inferiority of divineness for 
Christ's humanity. 

That Hypostatic Union is a created thing 
ought to be clear to everyone, after a little thought. 
In Hypostatic Union Divine Personality replaces 
human personality ; or, what is more to the present 
purpose, Divine Personality is united with an 
individual human nature. Now such a union is 
brought about by God's creative Omnipotence, 
uniting the two extremes into the One Ineffable. 
If creative Omnipotence did not intervene, a 
human nature could never have divine existence, 
Divine Personality, except in the pantheistic sense. 
Personal being outside God is always the result 
of a creative act of God. Now the circumstance 
that personal being exists before — namely, the 
second Person of the Trinity — does not alter the 
case. It had to be given to an individual human 
nature, and such granting, or such uniting, supposes 
as much a creative act as the production of personal 
being ex nihilo. In this sense Hypostatic Union 
is something created, aliquid creatum. It is the 
result of a created act, but a result that implies 
a series of infinitudes. For though Hypostatic 
Union be something created, in no sense is it 
something finite. To be a created thing and to 
be a finite thing are not necessarily synonymous. 
Philosophers admit degrees in Infinitude : there 


are greater infinitudes and lesser infinitudes. In 
order to explain Hypostatic Union exhaustively, 
no doubt every kind of infinitude ought to be 
pressed into service : it is deep calling unto deep. 
But one thing is certain : it has no finite element, 
though it be a created marvel. Christ's human 
nature no doubt has finite elements, but that thing 
that makes the nature divine, Hypostatic Union, 
is all made up of Immensity and Ulimitability. 



The commonest theological formula stating the 
Mystery of the Incarnation is this : ' God was 
made man/ We have scriptural authority for it 
in the words of St. John's Gospel, first chapter : 
' And the Word was made flesh/ 

St. Thomas makes an exhaustive study of the 
various formulas that express the wondrous mystery, 
in the sixteenth question of his third part of the 
Summa. It shows amongst other things how 
various were the aspects of the mystery known to 
the great thinker. 

Now the formula ' God was made man ' has 
his full approval. It is a true statement. His 
interpretation is this : ' God is said to have been 
made man, because a human nature began to have 
being through the personality of a divine nature 
that pre-exists from all eternity/ l 

In other words, for God to become man is merely 

1 A d primum. 


the fact of a Divine Personality doing duty of 
personality for a particular human nature. Such 
office, Divine Personality did not exert from all 
eternity, but started it in time, in the hour which 
had been predestined. So it is both orthodox 
and grammatical to say : ' God became man/ 

Many of us would feel easier in our minds with 
that other formula, * Man became God,' as it 
expresses better the elevation of human nature 
through Hypostatic Union, as it seems to contain 
no narrowing of the Godhead, but a broadening 
of manhood. Yet St. Thomas rejects the formula 
as misleading. His reasons are best given in the 
third article of the thirty-third question, where 
he treats of Christ's conception. I give his meaning. 
1 We say with great propriety of language that God 
became man ; but we cannot say with any propriety 
that man became God. God merely assumed 
what is human ; but this human element never 
existed before the assumption. If it had existed 
it would have had a separate personality. Now 
it would be against the nature of Hypostatic Union 
to unite Divine Personality with a pre-existing 
complete human being having already personal 

In other words, the reason why it cannot be 
said that man became God is this, that the human 
part of Christ never had ' a personal existence of 
its own.' The Godhead that created it in Mary's 


womb performed the functions of personality in it 
from the first moment of its existence. 

This, and no other, is the reason why the two 
propositions, ' God became man, and man became 
God/ are not convertible propositions. Divine 
Personality existed in Itself from eternity, before 
it discharged the office of personality to a human 
nature. But the human nature never existed before 
it was given Divine Personality. Its creation and 
its being raised to Divine Personality are not two 
divisible moments. 

But, on the other hand, St. Thomas admits the 
convertibility of the two propositions : ' God is man, 
and man is God.' It is the 'factum est * (' became ') 
the theologian does not like when Christ's human 
nature is spoken of in connection with the possession 
of perfect Divinity. Only a pre-existing thing 
becomes properly something new, has new relations, 
new functions. St. John describes in his first 
chapter the life of the Word before the Word 
1 became flesh/ There is no history of Christ's 
humanity before it ' became divine/ Its history 
starts with its being supported in existence by 
the Personality of the Word. 

But man is God, and God is man. For some 
minds the first formula is more prolific in spiritual 
consolations ; for other minds the second formula 
is more delightful. One is as good as the other, 
from the point of view of theological accuracy. 


By the first we mean that Divine Personality has 
replaced human personality ; by the second we 
look directly at the human element having its 
existence through Divine Personality. The first 
is no narrowing down of limitless infinitude, the 
second is limitless broadening of finiteness. 



It is not immensely more difficult to admit Hypo- 
static Union than any other supernatural grace. 
The moment we grant that Christ is a superman 
in a way in which no other human being has been 
or ever will be a superman, we are amongst those 
who can no longer have any rational difficulties 
against Hypostatic Union. 

The Christ of the orthodox is essentially a 
Christ so great that He cannot be the outcome 
of a cosmic process, however prolonged and how- 
ever potent that process may be ; Christ is what 
He is through a direct action, or unction, to use 
a scriptural word, on the part of the extra-mundane 
Deity. That such unction should be the communi- 
cation of Divine Personality itself, instead of mere 
finite graces, is not a new difficulty. The super- 
natural order once admitted, communication of 
Divine Personality is merely the highest possible 
form of supernatural elevation. 

Here I should like to quote one of the side 


issues of the theological doctrines on the Hypo- 
static Union. St. Thomas, with his masterful 
grip of the main question at stake, makes various 
suppositions, which he answers with a view to 
making the main point more clear. He asks 
whether a divine person could have taken into 
Hypostatic Union several individual human natures. 
His answer is in the affirmative ; for no finite 
number of individual human natures could ex- 
haust the communicability of the Divine Personality. 
In other words, the unction we call Hypostatic 
Union could have been multiplied a millionfold 
if God in His wisdom had chosen to do so, just 
as other inferior graces are multiplied. 

I dare say that with many minds Hypostatic 
Union is a real difficulty because they shrink from 
the thought of the Godhead being contained and 
circumscribed within the limits of a created nature. 
To them Incarnation seems hardly possible without 
a loss to Divinity itself. Their instinct is right. 
No amount of spiritual advantage in the creature 
could ever be an adequate compensation for any 
loss to the Majesty of the Godhead itself. In fact, 
the idea implies contradiction. How could loss to 
God ever be the creature's gain, as all the creature's 
happiness is precisely in the creature's aspiration 
to an immutably happy Divinity? A diminished 
or humbled Godhead would be the creature's 
greatest misfortune. 


Hypostatic Union leaves the potentialities of 
Godhead as infinite as it found them. ' The power 
of a Divine Person is infinite ; it cannot be limited 
down to any created thing. Therefore we have 
to say that the Divine Person did not take unto 
Itself our human nature in such a wise as not to be 
able to take up another nature. For in such a case 
it would seem that the personality of a divine nature 
is thus included within one single human nature, that 
no other nature could have been united with 
such a Divine Personality — a thing that is absurd. 
'The uncreated can never be included within 
the created. It is clear therefore that whether 
we consider the Divine Person from the point of 
view of its power, which is the (effective) principle 
of the union, or whether we consider it from the 
point of view of personality itself, which is the 
goal of the union, we have to admit that the Divine 
Person could have taken up a numerically distinct 
human nature from the one which it took in fact.' * 

With such views on the resources of Divinity, 
the main objection against Hypostatic Union 
falls to the ground. Hypostatic Union is infinite 
glory and sanctity to the human nature without 
its being the least fettering of the freedom of God- 
head itself. 

St. Thomas conceives the possibility of a higher 
kind of Incarnation than the one which Faith 

1 Pt. iii„ quest, s, art. 7. 


teaches. A Hypostatic Union in which the three 
divine persons take up one single individual nature. 
The idea implies no contradiction. ' Non est im- 
possibile divinis personis ut duae vel tres assumant 
unam naturam humanam.' * 

Even in this highest form of divine liberality 
we find God's free choice, which is the charm of all 
His gifts. Where there are many possibilities, He 
chooses the one best adapted for a particular purpose. 
Hypostatic Union is no exception to the rule of the 
divine deliberateness in giving. Not only is Hypo- 
static Union God's free election, but the kind of 
Hypostatic Union He determines upon shows 
infinitely wise thought. God is never overwhelmed 
by His own liberalities. In the thirteenth century, 
as much as in our own, there was the milk and honey 
temperament of the optimist. I take optimism here 
in its philosophical sense. I mean the man who 
thinks that God ought always to do the best possible 
thing, irrespective of the results on the purport of 
the whole. So the idea that a Divine Personality 
might have united with itself every human individual 
in oneness of person made them ask the question 
why God in His charity did not do so. 

St. Thomas gives those big children satisfaction 
(if a born optimist can ever be satisfied) in the 
fifth article of the ninth question. ' If we all were 
united hypostatically, there would not have been 

1 Quest, 3, art, 6. 

f 2 


the marvel of marvels, the charity of Christ dying 
on the Cross for us.' Such is the meaning of one of 
his reasonings. It is a profound one, because it 
shows that the great marvel in the whole mystery 
of the Incarnation is not so much the initial fact of 
the Hypostatic Union as the human life and death 
of the God-man. ' I answer that the love of God 
towards men shows itself not only in taking up the 
human nature, but much more (prczcipue) through 
the things He suffered in the human nature for other 
men, according to Rom. v. 8, " God commendeth 
His charity towards us, because when as yet we were 
sinners, Christ died for us." This could not have 
taken place, if He had taken up human nature in all 
its representatives.' * 

The divine act or fact of the Hypostatic Union, 
wonderful as it is, is to the mind of the theologian 
not the main point. The marvel of marvels is 
the life of which the Hypostatic Union is the 

What a glorious theology ! Far from being 
overpowered by the doctrine of a Divine Person 
uniting a human nature in an indissoluble oneness, 
it makes the value of such exaltation subservient 
to the experimental sanctity of conscious life and 

1 Pt. 3, quest. 5, art. 5, ad, 2i 



Speaking metaphorically, I said in a previous 
chapter that the spiritual vitalities in Christ's 
Person are like so many ramifications of a great 
tidal river flowing on such even land as would allow 
the waters of the ocean to mix with the waters of 
the river over the whole course of the stream. 

The great aim of our theology is to make Christ's 
human nature as divine as possible whilst preserving 
the real distinction between His humanity and His 
Divinity. St. Thomas, by a rare stroke of genius, 
has found the theological formula that states this 
highest possible elevation of Christ's humanity by 
His Divinity for the active purposes of the Redemp- 
tion. Christ's humanity is to His Divinity a live 
instrument, instrumentum conjunctum Divinitatis. It 
is one of the finest concepts of Catholic theology, and 
a concept too which is indispensable if the scriptures 
have to be taken in their literal meaning. The 
theory is briefly this : My arm and my hand are 
the live or the joined instruments of my brain. 


Being vitally connected with my brain, there is 
practically no limit to the perfection of rational 
work my hand, with no gift of reason residing 
in it, may achieve. The hand of Michael Angelo has 
painted the Last Judgment and created the wonder- 
ful Moses ; it was his hand that did it, but not his 
hand alone, for from his brain there streamed into 
his hand the creative power of genius. In scholastic 
language Michael Angelo's hand would be the 
instrumentum conjunctum of his brain. 

Such is the view St. Thomas takes of Christ's 
manhood. Because Godhead is united with man- 
hood in one Person as brain and hand are united 
in one organism, manhood is the hand of Godhead, 
manhood does the works of God just as the human 
hand does the works of human genius. 

It is easy to see that St. Thomas has practically 
introduced a tertium quid between Godhead and 
manhood in Christ, something that is lower than 
Hypostatic Union and at the same time is higher 
than human nature, even in its loftiest state of 
sanctification. The technical name for this tertium 
quid is Divine Instrumentality. Highest in Christ 
there is Hypostatic Union; lowest, there is immensity 
of sanctifying grace ; between the two there 
is Divine Instrumentality. It may be a matter 
of regret that we have no expression for it that 
reminds one less of mechanical things. St. Thomas 
has always been satisfied with the word 


instrumentum, and it is the reader's duty to attach 
to this term such meaning as will make it for him 
the expression of highest spiritual reality. 

I shall state now this great doctrine in the 
words of St. Thomas himself ; in their conciseness 
they open out wonderful horizons of spiritual possi- 
bilities, of which we the redeemed are naturally the 
beneficiaries. I quote from the second article of the 
thirteenth question of the third part of the Summa. 
' The soul of Christ may be viewed under a double 
aspect. There is first the soul's congenital nature, 
with its power either natural or gratuitous (i.e. 
supernatural) ; then we may view the soul of Christ 
as the instrument of the Word of God hypostatically 
united with it. Speaking then of the soul of 
Christ from the point of view of its congenital nature 
and power either supernatural or gratuitous, the 
soul of Christ has in itself the power of bringing 
about those effects which are natural to the soul, 
as, for instance, to rule over the body and to dispose 
the human acts, and also to enlighten through 
the fulness of its grace and knowledge all those 
rational creatures who fall short of the perfection 
which is in Christ's soul, in the way in which it 
is possible for a reasoning creature to be thus 

1 But if now we speak of Christ's soul from the 
point of view of its being the instrument of the 
Word united with it (hypostatically), from that 


point of view Christ's soul had the instrumental 
power to bring about all those miraculous changes 
which in any way have any relation to the end of 
the Incarnation, which is to restore all things 
either in the heavens or on the earth. But such 
changes in creatures as would bring about their 
annihilation are the counterpart of the creation 
of things out of nothing, and therefore as God 
alone is able to create out of nothing, God alone 
has power to annihilate creatures, for God alone 
keeps beings in their existence lest they fall back 
into nothingness. Therefore we must say that the 
soul of Christ is not possessed with Omnipotence 
concerning the mutation of created things/ 

We see therefore that there is only one exception 
to the extent of Christ's power as the live instrument 
of the Word : creation out of nothing and the 
corresponding power of annihilation could not 
be attributed to our Lord as man ; short of that, 
there is nothing which Our Lord could not do. 
The resurrection of the bodies at the end of the 
world is perhaps the highest external manifestation 
of Our Lord's power ; it is within Our Lord's power 
to bring back to life every human organism, because 
the resurrection of all flesh is not creation out of 
nothing, but reconstruction out of previous materials. 
* For as the Father raiseth up the dead and giveth 
life, so the Son also giveth life to whom He will, 
for neither does the Father judge any man, but 


has given all judgement to the Son, that all men 
may honour the Son as they honour the Father . . . 
Amen, Amen, I say unto you, that the hour cometh 
and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of 
the Son of God, and they that hear shall live, for 
as the Father has life in Himself, so He has given to 
the Son also to have life in Himself. ... I cannot 
of myself do anything. As I hear, so I judge, 
and My judgment is just : because I seek not My 
own will, but the will of Him that sent me.' x 

' Now this is the Will of the Father who sent Me, 
that of all that He has given Me I should lose 
nothing, but should raise it up again in the last day ; 
and this is the Will of My Father that sent Me, 
that everyone who seeth the Son and believeth in 
Him may have life everlasting, and I will raise him 
up in the last day. ... He that eateth My 
Flesh and drinketh My Blood has everlasting life, 
and I will raise him up in the last day.' 2 

' Our conversation is in heaven, from whence 
also we look for the Saviour, Our Lord Jesus 
Christ, who will reform the body of our lowness, 
made like to the body of His glory, according to 
the operation whereby also He is able to subdue 
all things unto Himself.' 3 

1 Afterwards the end, when He [i.e. Christ] shall 
have delivered up the Kingdom to God and the 
Father, when He shall have brought to nought all 

1 St. John v, 2 St. John vi. ■ Phil. iii. 20, 21. 



principality and power and virtue ; for He must 
reign until He has put all enemies under His feet, 
and the enemy Death shall be destroyed last ; for 
He hath put all things under His feet ; whereas he 
says all things are put under Him, undoubtedly He 
is excepted who put all things under Him, and when 
all things shall be subdued unto Him, then the Son 
also Himself shall be subject unto Him that put all 
things under Him, that God may be all in all.' * 

Texts like the foregoing — and it would be easy 
to quote many more to the same effect — point 
clearly to a power in Our Lord's Personality which 
is not the power of the Godhead itself, but is a 
power of Christ's manhood, and yet it is a power 
which is almost omnipotent. Scholastic theo- 
logians have expressed it in a formula of their own 
coining : ' The instrumental power of Christ ' — 
' Instrumentum Verbi Dei.' It expresses the most 
wonderful thing in the simplest terms. 

As I have already insinuated, from this central 
principle there flow many spiritual possibilities ; 
and here I want the reader to pay great attention 
to another doctrine of St. Thomas which is merely 
a corollary of the doctrine already enunciated. 
Our Lord's life, death, resurrection, and ascension 
are the instruments of Divinity for our sanctification, 
our life, our resurrection, and our ascension. It 
is clear, of course, that Our Lord is our model, in 

1 i Cor. xv. 24-28. 


His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. It 
is clear again that Our Lord through His life and 
death atoned for us, merited for us, prayed for us ; 
such causal influences on the part of Our Lord with 
respect to mankind are called moral influences, 
moral causes. But there is more, and there must 
be more, if scriptural expressions as well as the 
language of Catholic tradition are not to be treated 
as hyperbolical. Christ's death is our life ; Christ's 
resurrection is our resurrection. 

There is nothing more instructive from this 
point of view than to read the whole of the forty- 
eighth question of the third part of the Summa : 
' On the way in which Our Lord's passion brought 
about our salvation.' First article : ' Did Christ's 
passion cause our salvation by manner of merit ? ' 
The answer is of course in the affirmative. Second 
article : ' Did Christ's passion cause our salvation 
by manner of satisfaction ? ' Again the answer is 
in the affirmative. Third article : ' Did Christ's 
passion cause our salvation by manner of a sacrifice ? ' 
Again he says Yes. Fourth and fifth articles : 
' Did Christ, and Christ alone, cause our salvation 
by manner of redemption ? ' The answer is 
affirmative to both parts of the question. Sixth 
and last article : ' Did Christ's passion cause our 
salvation by manner of efficiency ? ' (per modum 
efflcientiae). Efficiency in scholastic language is 
physical efficiency as opposed to a moral claim. 


' My answer is this/ says St. Thomas ; ' there is a 
double set of efficient agents, the principal agent 
and the instrumental agent : the principal efficient 
agent of the human salvation is God. But as 
Christ's humanity is the instrument of Divinity, as 
said already, through a direct consequence all the 
actions and sufferings of Christ work out instru- 
mentally under the power of Divinity the human 
salvation, and therefore Christ's passion causes 
human salvation by way of efficiency.' 

In this same article St. Thomas quotes an 
objection to this great theory. The objection is 
this : There is no effective bodily action except 
through contact ; but Christ's passion could not 
have contact with all men ; therefore He could 
not bring about the salvation of all men by means 
of a physical efficiency. I quote the answer 
literally : — 

' To the second objection I reply that though 
the passion of Christ be a bodily phenomenon, 
it has spiritual power from the Divinity that is 
united with it, and therefore it has efficiency by 
means of a spiritual contact — that is to say, by 
faith, and the sacrament of faith.' 

This last clause, ' by faith, and the sacra- 
ment of faith,' means this : that faith in individual 
souls by which they are saved is caused by Christ's 
passion, in the manner of an efficiency. To receive 
faith is to be touched by Christ's passion. With 

' instrument™ CONJUNCTUM ' w 

greater clearness still is this doctrine stated in 
the sixth article of the fiftieth question. There 
St. Thomas asks whether Christ's death did any- 
thing for our salvation. By death he means, 
not exactly the act of dying, but the actual state 
of death. There is an obvious objection : the 
dead Christ could not merit, from the very fact 
of His being dead ; therefore though the dying 
Christ might merit, the dead Christ could not 
do anything for us. ' Yes/ says St. Thomas, 
1 the dead Christ could not be the cause of our 
salvation, in the manner of merit, but he could 
be a cause of salvation in the manner of an efficiency, 
because even in death Divinity was not separated 
from Our Lord's Flesh, and therefore whatever 
happened to Our Lord's dead Body is to us a 
source of salvation in virtue of the Divinity united 
with it.' 

The same doctrine occurs again with the causality 
of Our Lord's resurrection. I cannot resist the 
temptation of quoting once more; my quotation 
is taken from the first article of the fifty-sixth 
question. ' Christ's resurrection,' says St. Thomas, 
! is the efficient cause of our resurrection because 
Christ's Humanity precisely from being a risen 
humanity is in a way the instrument of His Divinity, 
and works in the power of the Divinity, and there- 
fore as all other things which Christ did in his 
Humanity or suffered in His Humanity are to us 


a source of salvation in virtue of His Divinity, 
Christ's resurrection also is an efficient cause of 
our resurrection through Divine Power, to whom 
it belongs to quicken the dead ; for this Divine 
Power is present to and has contact with all places 
and all times ; and this contact of power suffices 
to explain that efficiency of Christ's resurrection.' 

In an earlier question of this third part of the 
Summa 1 St. Thomas has another application of this 
great principle. Through it he explains the possibility 
for Christ to be the life-giving Head to the heavenly 
spirits in His Humanity. How could humanity be 
to angelic spirits the source of spiritual perfection ? 
■ Christ's Humanity,' says St. Thomas, ' in virtue 
of the spiritual nature, that is the Divine nature, 
is able to cause something (spiritual) not only 
in the spirits of men, but also in the spirits of 
angels, on account of that most intimate union 
of the Humanity with God — that is to say, Hypo- 
static Union.' Christ gives something spiritual 
to the angels through His Humanity, but the 
Humanity does it in virtue of the Divinity. It 
is again the Divine Instrumentality. 

I do not think I owe the reader an apology 
for keeping him so long in these high theological 
regions ; the Church's greatest divine, St. Thomas, 
can never be understood unless we grasp his prin- 
ciples of the Divine Instrumentality in connection 

1 Quest. 8, art. 4. 


with our Lord's Humanity. If once we grasp it, it 
becomes a most sweet, a most devotional principle. 
We shall feel soon how near we are, after all, in 
our spiritual life to Christ's life, death, and 
resurrection. Nothing will surprise us any more 
in what we read of the mystical unions of the 
life of the saint with Christ's life. Infinite, un- 
changing, all-present Divinity, for whom there 
is no yesterday nor to-morrow, simply uses the 
actions of Our Lord as a most beautiful tool for 
the sanctification of souls. Christ's death on 
the Cross is as truly and as directly the cause of 
my sanctification in the hands of Godhead as 
the pen with which I write is the cause of the 
letters that cover the paper on which I write. 
The mystical possibilities of this great theory 
of St. Thomas are greater than anything we could 

In one of the above quotations from St. Thomas 
the great doctor says that Christ's Humanity, 
precisely because it is a risen humanity, is a fit 
instrument in the hands of God to bring about our 
own resurrection. We must remember what we 
said at the beginning, that every instrument has a 
fitness of its own for a definite and specific purpose. 
Christ is the fit instrument of our resurrection 
because He is a risen Christ. We may say like- 
wise that Our Lord is a fit instrument of every kind 
of sanctification and spiritual purification because 


He has suffered in His Body, because at one time 
His Body was a dead body ; through His passion 
and death His Humanity acquired a most eminent 
fitness to be in the hands of God the instrument of 
the most miraculous graces and resurrections. 

From all that precedes we see how the whole 
supernatural world rests on the shoulders of Christ's 
Humanity. In the whole work of our salvation 
and sanctification Christ's Divinity does not come 
in, except as the higher cause. We know that 
Divinity is behind it all, yet Divinity, being infinite 
truth and reality, never allows the Humanity to 
shirk any work that may possibly be done by 
Humanity. There is only one instance in which 
Divinity as such is directly appealed to in the 
work of our salvation : it is the adequate repara- 
tion given to God's offended majesty. Of this I 
shall say more later on. In everything else it is 
the Humanity that does the work. It does it indeed 
as the instrument of Divinity, but it does it none 
the less directly. 

To come back to our original comparison, we 
may navigate for a long time on the stream of 
Christ's human life and Christ's human perfection ; 
we may do marvels like those that go down to the 
sea, we may see great wonders long before we have 
to come to the ocean of His Divinity. 

The thought of this omnipotence of Our Lord's 
Humanity ought to be to us a source of peace and 


rest. ' These things I have spoken to you that in 
Me you may have peace ; in the world you shall 
have distress ; but have confidence, I have overcome 
the world.' * 

In Our Lord Himself we see the grandest realisa- 
tion of a deep spiritual principle enunciated by Him 
in the Gospel of St. Luke. ' He that has shall 
receive and he shall abound, and he that has not, 
even what he has shall be taken away from him/ 

Hypostatic Union, far from making Our Lord's 
Humanity complete, requires in our Lord's Humanity 
the presence of a new gift : the gift of sanctifying 

Sanctifying grace is not Divinity itself, it is 
something created ; it is the greatest possible 
resemblance with God which a spirit may possess. 
Sanctifying grace differs entirely from the Divine 
Instrumentality spoken of above. Yet it is owing 
to the fact of the Hypostatic Union and to the fact 
of the Divine Instrumentality that sanctifying grace 
is in Our Lord. 

Sanctifying grace is a necessary concomitant 
in Christ's soul of Hypostatic Union and Divine 
Instrumentality. St. Thomas devotes the seventh 
and eighth questions of the third part to Our Lord's 
sanctifying grace. In the first article of the 
seventh question he says that the reasons why there 
must be in Our Lord sanctifying grace are precisely 
1 St, Johm xvi. 33. 


Hypostatic Union and Divine Instrumentality. 
Christ's soul is united with Divinity, but Christ's 
soul is not Divinity itself. To be united with 
Divinity does not make it into Divinity, there- 
fore it must be made as divine as possible, it must 
resemble Divinity as closely as possible ; this is done 
through sanctifying grace. Union between two 
is thinkable only when the two remain two distinct 
beings in the union ; if they became one being it 
would be no longer a union, but a fusion ; there- 
fore in Hypostatic Union Our Lord's humanity 
remains quite distinct. This is why the presence 
of Divinity, far from rendering sanctifying grace 
superfluous, makes its possession of much greater 
necessity for Our Lord than for any other creature, 
otherwise the union would be an ill-assorted 

Then again, from the point of view of Divine 
Instrumentality, sanctifying grace becomes an abso- 
lute necessity for Our Lord. ' Christ's Humanity/ 
says St. Thomas, ' is the instrument of Divinity, 
but He is not like an inanimate instrument, which 
has no action of its own, but is merely moved by a 
higher agent ; He is, on the contrary, an instrument 
that is animated by a rational soul, which in the 
very act of being used has an action of its own, and 
therefore for the sake of congenital action He was 
bound to have sanctifying grace.' 
1 Quest. 7, art. i. 


The whole Humanity of Christ must be thought of 
as being first permeated with spiritual vitalities, such 
as sanctifying grace, before it could be a fit instrument 
for man's sanctification in the hands of God ; with- 
out those spiritual vitalities the instrument would 
have lacked natural fitness. 

To what extent did our Lord possess sanctifying 
grace ? Fulness of grace is constantly attributed to 
our Lord. St. Thomas says it was not actually infi- 
nite grace; but it was such a grace as to establish a 
kind of proportion between Christ's soul and Christ's 
Divinity. He has as much grace as is necessary 
to make the union between the human soul and 
Divinity a well-assorted union. God alone there- 
fore could measure the extent of Our Lord's grace. 
God alone could be judge of the measure of sancti- 
fying grace that would make of Christ's Humanity 
a fit and harmonious instrument in the hands of 

It would be a dangerous tendency if the keen 
realisation of our spiritual privileges and respon- 
sibilities were to make us overlook Our Lord's 
Humanity for the sake of something exclusively 
spiritual. Catholic doctrine never detaches man's 
attention from Our Lord's Humanity. Christ's 
action as man is the greatest spirit-reality for the 
redeemed soul. Where spiritual life is highest and 
sincerest, devotion to Our Lord's Humanity is 
tenderest and the feeling of dependence on Him 

G 2 


strongest. It may be stated as an unquestionable 
principle that Our Lord in His manhood is to the 
human spirit everything that makes it great and 

We know little of Our Lord's relation with the 
angels, except that He is the head and king of 
angels ; but to the human spirit in the present life 
and in the future He is much more. 

The expressions of the inspired scriptures, where 
are stated Our Lord's relations to man, and more 
particularly to the soul of man, are astoundingly 
energetic. Christ is made unto us wisdom, and 
justice, and sanctification, and redemption. He is 
our life, He is our resurrection ; as in Adam we all 
fell, so in Christ we shall all rise ; and there are a 
hundred other expressions that all point to much 
more direct and real influence of Our Lord on every 
soul than we commonly suppose. 



The presence of the Second Person of the Godhead in 
the individual human nature is essentially, though 
not exclusively, dynamic ; it is essentially a power 
that elevates the assumed individual human nature. 

It is perhaps a theological view of which it may 
be said that it has become slightly obscured even 
amongst Catholic theologians of the latter days ; 
but there is no doubt as to the position which this 
view holds in the Christology of St. Thomas Aquinas. 
It is a very refreshing view, and one that may be 
called most appropriately, as I said, the dynamic 
view of Hypostatic Union. 

In more recent theological works the view 
taken of the presence of the Divinity in the individual 
human nature is exclusively what I might call 
the static view. Theologians accept the fact 
of the Hypostatic Union, of the presence of the 
fulness of Godhead in Christ's Humanity, and there 
they remain. From such presence they all con- 
clude the infinite moral dignity of Christ. A 


human nature that bears within itself the fulness 
of Godhead, that is united hypostatically with the 
Second Person of the Trinity, shares in the infinitude 
of sanctity and dignity proper to Godhead itself. 
They say, for instance, that Christ's sufferings had 
infinite atoning power because they were the 
sufferings of a human organism hypostatically 
united to Godhead. But beyond that communi- 
cation of infinitude of moral worth, the more recent 
theologies know little of an influence of the Divine 
Person on the human nature in Christ ; their view 
of the Hypostatic Union, as I said, is exclusively a 
static view. 

The two terms ' static ' and ' dynamic - are not 
contradictory ; the same thing may be partly 
static, partly dynamic; so I should say that the 
view of St. Thomas is a combination of the static 
and the dynamic. For him Hypostatic Union is 
indeed the presence of the Divinity in an individual 
human nature, but it is a presence full of activities, 
full of vital influences ; it is more than a mere 
communication of moral worth ; it is an elevation 
of all the vital powers of Christ's Humanity, natural 
and supernatural. 

This is merely another view, another statement, 
of his beloved expression that Christ's Humanity 
is in all things instrumentum conjunctum Divinitatis. 
Divinity, through Hypostatic Union, through that 
intimacy of presence implied in Hypostatic Union, 


has become the master of that Humanity in a way 
that is not possible outside Hypostatic Union, and, 
owing to that complete and wonderful mastery, 
God does in Christ works of the spiritual order, 
which it would not be possible for any created 
nature to be the agent of, unless that nature were 
hypostatically united with Divinity. 

More simply I should state the matter thus : 
Hypostatic Union is not a thing that exists for 
its own sake, but it is the necessary means to raise 
up an individual human nature to such a height 
as to make it capable of doing the work of human 
redemption and sanctification. In Hypostatic 
Union God has shown forth His power, because He 
has raised up a human nature to such a height as 
to make it capable of the whole work of redemption 
and sanctification. Christ's human soul and human 
body, through being united hypostatically with the 
Second Person of the Trinity, has acquired un- 
paralleled fitness to be in the hands of God the 
instrument of every spiritual marvel — a fitness 
which a human nature could never possess outside 
Hypostatic Union. No amount of sanctifying grace 
could give such fitness, and it may be said that this 
fitness is precisely the whole aim of Hypostatic 

It is easy to see how the older view, which I call 
in modern phraseology the dynamic view of Hypo- 
static Union, considerably affects Christian piety. 


The human being we love under the name of Jesus 
is the main object in the whole of our Christ ology. 
It is that human being that atones for our sins ; it is 
that human being that directly forgives our sins ; it 
is that human being that directly raises from their 
corruption those that are spiritually and physically 
dead ; it is that human being that directly is the 
Father of the whole spiritual world to come. How 
can a man do these things ? is the old objection. No 
man can do it, is the answer, unless he be hyposta- 
tically united with God ; but being once hypostatic- 
ally united with Divinity, man has a native fitness 
to do all those things. He does them in virtue of His 
Divinity, it is true ; but it would be wrong to think 
that by this expression, ' in virtue of His Divinity/ 
is meant an exclusively divine action, in the sense 
that the God who dwells in Christ does it. No, it is 
that human being called Jesus who does it, and He 
has become capable of doing it simply because He 
is hypostatically united with Godhead ; without 
such union He could never do such works. 

The merely static view of the presence of 
Divinity in Christ through Hypostatic Union might 
easily lead to a concept of Christ's Personality 
that accentuates the duality of natures in Him 
at the expense of the union of the two natures. 
With all due reverence, might I be allowed to say 
that there is a danger of our thinking of Christ in 
layers, with the consequent feeling of unreality? 


The older theology was as firm a believer in the 
differences of the two natures in Christ, the divine 
and the human ; but the two natures for the older 
theology are not two separate layers of life in 
Christ's Personality ; there is a most intimate 
compenetration of activities between the two 
natures, the divine nature using the human nature 
as its instrumentum conjunctum, as my brain uses 
my arm and my hand, according to the favourite 
simile of St. Thomas. 

The identification of the two natures and their 
confusion into one entity is the old Eutychian 
heresy, the most subtle aberration of man trying 
to understand the psychology of Christ. St. 
Thomas has shown how it is possible to conceive 
a compenetration of the two natures that is not a 
confusion — the compenetration of mutual activities. 

The Son of Man stands before us in the fulness 
of Divine Power ; and Divinity, far from diminishing 
His manhood, has given that Humanity undreamed 
of powers and possibilities that will make every 
human heart in this world and in the next find 
shelter in Him as the birds of the air find shelter 
in the mighty tree that springs up from the mustard 



A study of the theological controversies of the 
early church-periods reveals a different temper 
from the temper of the controversies of a later 
date. Christians were evidently deeply interested 
in Christ's Personality and in Christ's psychology — I 
might almost say in Christ's intimate life. Perhaps 
it is more congenial to the Eastern mind to analyse 
its God than to analyse itself. Western doctrinal 
upheavals have always been more or less about 
practical things, about good works, about sanctity, 
about sacraments. We are indebted, however, to 
the East and its theologians for that most perfect 
Christology which is the Church's greatest treasure. 
Controversies about the two wills and the 
two operations in Christ were the last stages of 
the great theological battle ; the sixth and seventh 
centuries are full of them, both ecclesiastically 
and politically. Monothelitism is the received 
name for the wrong standpoint in that matter ; 


it means oneness of will, whilst the Church decided 
for a duality of wills and a duality of operations 
in Christ. 

The Council of Ephesus had defined the oneness 
of person in Christ ; the Council of Chalcedon had 
defined the duality of natures in Christ. Christ 
has a divine nature and a human nature in one 
personality. That new doubts should have sprung 
up is comprehensible enough ; Christ's will was 
always one with His Father's will, Christ's actions 
were always in obedience to His Father's com- 
mands ; so it would seem that, in spite of the duality 
of nature, there was oneness of will and oneness 
of operation. The error was a subtle one, and no 
doubt the holiest men might be deceived. After 
all, oneness with God's will is highest sanctity. 
The Latin Church, whose theology prevailed in 
the long run, considered that oneness of will and 
oneness of operation would be a partial renewing 
of the older heresy of Eutyches. Will and operation 
are nature's best jewels ; if they are one only 
in Christ and not two, duality of nature is of little 
avail ; so there is in Christ the divine will and the 
human will, the divine operation and the human 

This much for the historical and dogmatic 
stating of the question. But duality of will and 
operation in Christ is a point of theology full of 
interest to those to whom the Christ-psychology is 


the most entrancing psychology. The Eastern 
mind that fell into Monothelitism overlooked a 
distinction which many other minds have over- 
looked : the distinction between the will as a power 
and the will as an object. There can never be 
identification of powers, but there may be identifica- 
tion of objects. When I say that my will and 
somebody's will are one, I mean to say that we 
strive after the same object, that we love the same 
object, that we agree about the same object ; so 
in Christ there never was, and there never could 
be, two wills — in the sense of two conflicting and 
contradictory objects ; whatever was willed by 
Divinity was also willed by humanity. Such an 
identification of will is a perfection ; fusion of wills 
as powers would be, on the contrary, a great loss ; 
it would be, in fact, the destruction of nature. 

But there is one consideration which is of utmost 
importance both in Christ's psychology and in 
our own psychology : how far is that oneness of 
object preserved in the reluctance of our will powers 
when we have to do a hard thing which we know to 
be God's will, or, more clearly, the object of God's 
will. That there was such a reluctance in Christ 
is evident from His prayer and agony in the garden, 
related more explicitly by St. Luke and alluded to 
by St. Matthew and St. Mark. ' My soul is sorrowful 
even unto death.' 1 

1 St. Mark xiv. 34. 


That there was a tremendous struggle in Christ's 
soul at that hour is evident from the sweat of 
blood. Yet oneness of will with the Father's 
will was part of Christ's unalterable sanctity. 
The solution of this apparent contradiction lies in 
the distinction between the higher human will and 
the lower human will. The higher will is made 
of reason, the lower will is made of sensations and 
impressions. The two wills may follow different 
lines — opposite lines even ; it is man's struggle; 
which is not always a struggle between good and 
evil, but is as frequently a struggle between the 
higher good and the lower good. Now oneness 
with the divine will is preserved through the 
stability of the higher will, that it should carry 
out its purpose even against the most stubborn 
reluctance of the will of impression. Such was 
Christ's oneness of will. ' Abba, Father, all things 
are possible to Thee; remove this chalice from 
me : but not what I will, but what Thou wilt.' 1 
That duality of will which the Catholic Church 
adopted as part of her Christology is really the 
most beautiful trait in our theology of Christ, 
because in it we find the glorification of human 
freedom wonderfully combined with the oneness 
of the divine purpose. 

St. Thomas Aquinas, who is as great a believer 
in the duality of wills and operations in Christ as 

1 St. Mark xiv. 36. 


any other theologian, has conceived another one- 
ness of will besides the oneness of objects. I 
quote him literally from the first article of the 
nineteenth question, in the answer to the second 
objection. ' Therefore the operation which is of the 
human nature in Christ, as far as it is the instrument 
of Divinity, is not different from the operation of the 
Divinity ; for the salvation through which Christ's 
humanity saves is not different from the salvation 
through which His Divinity saves.' 

In this sentence we have practically all that 
oneness in Christ's life we want ; it is a deep concept 
to say that there are not two savings in Christ, 
one done by His Divinity and one done by His 
humanity ; on the contrary, it is all one act, owing 
to the wonderful instrumental elevation and influ- 
ence, made so much of by St. Thomas. 

No doubt, thoughts of that kind had been 
floating in the Eastern mind. Salvation was God's 
work, God's will, God's love ; it could not think 
of a dual salvation. But it was reserved to a 
Western genius to show how with a duality of wills 
and powers there could be oneness of operation. 


Christ's knowledge 

Our theology on Christ's knowledge is guided 
completely by a twofold entirety in Christ — namely, 
He is entirely human, and He is a principle of life 
to the entirety of the human race. 

The various classes of knowledge which theology 
attributes to our Lord are as indispensable to this 
twofold function of His as our nerves and sinews 
are indispensable to us in order to make of our 
body a healthy, active, agile body, whose very life 
is a feeling of refreshing well-being. 

At first sight the conclusions of theology in this 
matter may seem arbitrary ; it might appear as if the 
theologian had fallen into the trap that lies before 
every theological idealistic hero-worshipper and 
millennium dreamer : you simply make your hero 
stand for every beautiful abstraction ; once in the 
dreamland of sanctity, there is no more reason to 
draw the line than there is in fairyland. A 
mountain of gold is as easily imagined as a 
house of gold. As Christ is the ideal, and must be 
the ideal, we simply hang on Him all the spiritual 


glories we can think of, and afterwards we call it 
theology. Such, I say, might be the cautious attitude 
even of a reverential mind towards a theologian's 
wisdom. Is it anything else, says the critical reader, 
than an ordinary instance of that love of accumula- 
tion so noticeable in the hero-worshipper ? 

Careful study of the argumentation of the 
masters of sacred wisdom in that matter reveals a 
quite different temper : it is not the temper of the 
idealist, it is the temper of the psychologist. The 
theology of our Lord's knowledge is analytic, not 
synthetic ; if it postulates various classes of know- 
ledge in our Lord, it postulates them as life-functions, 
not as the ornaments of an infinitely privileged 
nature. Theology simply says that without those 
various kinds of knowledge Christ could never be 
entirely human, that He could never be the life of 
the entire human race. 

So little indeed has the naive love of the hero- 
worshipper for the accumulation of glories given the 
tune in this matter, that this point has, on the con- 
trary, acquired a kind of secondary celebrity in the 
history of theology for a retractation of St. Thomas 
based on psychological considerations. In his earlier 
works St. Thomas had held the opinion that in Christ 
there was no kind of acquired knowledge of the 
experimental class. This view he retracts as being 
contrary to a deeper understanding of the workings 
of Christ's human nature. 


Before proceeding, I must give the reader a 
synoptic view of the various kinds of rational 
knowledge of which Catholic theology speaks. The 
classification is short, including only four members. 
But it is a classification which is absolutely indis- 
pensable to theology ; without it many of the 
revealed truths would lack rational meaning. 

First and highest is the divine knowledge, the 
knowledge which God has of Himself and of every- 
thing else besides. This is increated knowledge. 

Then, coming to the rational creature, there is 
the Blessed Vision of God, called technically 
' beatific vision/ It is an entirely supernatural, 
I might almost say an entirely miraculous, kind of 
knowledge, granted only to the spirits perfect in 
charity and having reached the goal of eternal 
fixity in goodness. By means of this knowledge 
a spirit, either human or angelic, is enabled to see 
God in His own native splendour, and he is enabled 
to see in God many things of which God is the origin, 
and of which God has knowledge. 

After that we come to spirit-knowledge properly 
so-called. A pure spirit is created with the full 
knowledge of all things that are equal to him, 
or lower than himself, besides his having a partial 
knowledge of beings higher than himself. This 
knowledge does not depend, in its essentials, on 
sanctity ; even a fallen spirit retains it. Such 
knowledge is complete in the spirit's mind from 


the first moment of his existence. No new ideas 
come to the spirit, except by special grace. But 
there may be new applications of the innate idea. 
The spirit's perfection is such as to postulate that 
initial fulness of wisdom. 

The fourth kind of rational knowledge belongs 
to the human spirit, in its state of union with the 
body. It is the knowledge acquired by the mind 
through the infinitely varied instrumentality of 
the senses. It is the wonderful schooling through 
the external world, with its ever new experiences 
and surprises, not to speak of its great lessons 
and possible discoveries. 

I need not enter into all the divisions and 
varieties that may be found within each of 
the four categories. I mention, as it were, four 
continents, four planes of intellectual activities ; 
but I lay no claim to having said anything as to 
the manifold wonders that may be hidden within 
their boundaries. 

Leaving alone the first kind of knowledge 
mentioned, God's knowledge in Himself and of 
Himself, and which is a divine and unchanging 
act, the three other kinds of knowledge, created 
knowledge, may vary endlessly in extent and 
vividness according to the sanctity or perfection 
of the individual, human or angelic. Moreover — 
and this is a point of utmost importance in theo- 
logical matters — the three kinds may be in the 


same mind, at the same time, regarding the same 
objects of knowledge. In other words, there is 
no apparent contradiction in the assumption that 
a human being may know all about another human 
being, at the same time, in the vision of God, in 
the angelic mode of knowledge, and in virtue of 
sense observation. Each mode of knowing would 
convey something which the other modes fail to 
convey, and the more perfect mode would not 
render useless the services of the less perfect mode, 
because the less perfect mode represents many 
times its object in a more congenital and more 
proportionate way. 

Daily experiences supply easy analogies. I may 
know of some clever piece of mechanical skill from 
a friend's description or from reading ; both the 
book and the friend give me a very good idea of 
the invention. After that I may go to the town 
where it is on view and look at it myself. Though 
I walk up to it with a very good image of it in 
my brain, when I actually come to see it, my 
store of experiences is the richer for the sight. 
I may then begin a process of mental investigation ; 
I try to fathom the principle of the invention ; 
I may succeed in following in my own mind the 
road which the original inventor followed in his, 
and I may be led to the same conclusions, and 
arrive concerning that very thing at the knowledge 
which its maker had before he carried his thoughts 

H 2 


into execution. Here we have three different 
modes of knowing the same object ; far from 
excluding or superseding each other, they help each 
other towards a fuller comprehension of the little 
wonder. This is of course a mere analogy to 
illustrate a much higher train of thought : how, 
for instance, there may be new intellectual grati- 
fication to meet the thing that was seen in the 
light of God's vision, as a reflection in a mirror, 
outside God, in its own native individuality, through 
another and lower mode of knowledge. 

In Christ there are at the same time all the 
aforesaid kinds of knowledge : there is the infinite, 
the divine knowledge of the Godhead ; there is 
the threefold created knowledge of beatific vision, 
of angelic cognition, and of human experience and 

In our thoughts on the Incarnation there is 
the constant danger of being overwhelmed by the 
fact of Christ's Divinity, as if it were the all- 
absorbing and all-effacing splendour of Christ's 
wonderful Personality. But we ought to bear in 
mind the great truth that Divinity was united 
with humanity not so much for the sake of that 
union, however adorable it may be, as for the 
sake of the great human life such a union rendered 
possible. So in this matter of knowledge, the 
presence of the divine mind in Christ's person, 
far from rendering superfluous the glories of the 


human mind, has no other end in view than precisely 
the perfection of that human mind. This is why 
St. Thomas says that if in Christ's Person there 
had been divine knowledge only, Christ's soul 
would have been in the dark, and its being united 
with the Godhead would have been a useless 
privilege. Hypostatic Union took place in order 
to cause in Christ's human soul such bliss, such 
lights, as to make of it in its turn the direct source 
and cause of all the bliss and all the light that will 
flood the minds of the elect, in the clear vision of 
God, for all eternity. It would not seem as if such 
a height and such a power of beatific vision as 
to make it the efficient cause of all other beatific 
visions, in ordinary human minds, were at all 
possible unless Divine Personality, which is the 
Wisdom of God the Father, were united with that 
created mind. Unless Christ had been endowed 
with beatific vision He could not have been happy 
in Himself ; He could not have become to us the 
efficient cause of our own vision of God ; He could 
not have possessed that double entirety of glorified 
humanity that makes Him what He is. 

This same principle of Christ's entirety makes 
it imperative on the theologian to ascribe to Him 
a most complete and a most far-reaching intellectual 
knowledge, which cannot have its origin in the 
experiences of sense, and which at the same time 
is not beatific vision. Christ's human mind must 


have been fully developed, must have possessed 
every kind of perfection a created intellect may 
possess, independently, so to speak, of the gift of 
God's vision, simply because it is the intellect 
of a man who has the double privilege of being 
God-man in Himself, and the King of the human 
race for ever, and, by a kind of extension, the King 
of the whole spirit-race. The whole created in- 
tellectual world is at His feet, because in Him the 
human intellect has acquired unparalleled perfec- 
tion through the proximity of the Godhead. 

It was precisely this incontrovertible fulness of 
intellectuality that made it seem doubtful whether 
there was any room for the workings of the ordinary 
human mind in Christ. Why should one so full 
of direct intellectual perceptions learn from the 
store-house of sense observations ? St. Thomas 
himself was impressed by such considerations, as I 
have said already. But St. Thomas learned what 
we all learn when Christ is the habitual subject 
of our thoughts : the necessity of keeping Him as 
human as possible, in spite of the sublimities of 
the Hypostatic Union, and even, perhaps, on 
account of those very sublimities. 

That Christ's human intellect should be filled 
with pure spirit-knowledge of all things belongs to 
the entirety of His representative role, embodying 
in Himself the whole human nature. But He would 
not have been in Himself an entirely human being if 


He had not acted and learned precisely like a human 
being. Christ's human brain is the most powerful, 
the most active that ever was. The attribute of 
genius belongs to Christ more than to any other 
historical personage. He may be called the greatest 
thinker, the greatest philosopher, without any im- 
propriety of language. He possesses in the most 
eminent degree what makes the really great amongst 
men so powerful — a serene, wonderfully penetrating 
mind at the service of a will of infinite resolve 
and considerateness. The higher kind of know- 
ledge only comes in as a kind of reserve when the 
organic brain of Christ — for such is the expression 
best suited to render the theology of St. Thomas 
in this matter — has done all it could do in virtue 
of its own superhuman excellency. How far a 
created human brain under the elevating influence 
of Hypostatic Union can go in its potentialities 
is of course a matter for admiring reverence rather 
than for dogmatic diagnosis. St. Thomas in the 
first article of the twelfth question simply says that 
Christ knew through the sheer penetration of His 
human brain-power all that can be known through 
human induction and deduction. Such are not his 
words ; but such is his meaning. In Christ the 
human mind attains its ideal perfection and power. 
The process of deduction and induction in Christ's 
mind was a progressive process, not an instantaneous 
one, as Christ's brain reached its maturity not 


instantaneously but progressively. He learned as 
He grew up. ' And Jesus advanced in wisdom and 
age, and grace with God and man.' l 

It is a principle admitted universally that Christ, 
through the combined clarities of the three sorts 
of created knowledge here described, knows every- 
thing that concerns the human race. The whole of 
mankind's nature with its life and free will is reflected 
in Christ's mind as in a mirror. St. Thomas thinks 
that such knowledge constitutes actually an infinity 
of knowledge, as the free acts of the human indi- 
viduals go on for all eternity. Such special and 
determined kind of infinitude is not above the grasp 
of a finite intellect, as it is infinitude in one direction 
only, not infinitude all round. What Catholic theo- 
logy is at pains to show is that complete mastery of 
mankind by the Son of man through which our 
race is deified. 

The theology on Christ's knowledge has received 
a strange actuality in our own days from unexpected 
quarters. Protestant theologians are at a loss 
how to explain Christ's abasement. This most 
vexed question is called the Kenotic question : How 
did Christ ' empty ' Himself ? More than one 
Anglican theologian explains Kenosis through de- 
ficiency in knowledge. Christ is supposed to have 
been lacking in knowledge in order to humble 
Himself, or anyhow to have turned away from 

1 St. Luke ii. 52, 


knowledge — to have shut His eyes for a time to the 
things which He knew. 

Catholic theology is as great a believer in Christ's 
abasement as any other theology, but it never felt 
the need of curtailing Christ's spiritual and in- 
tellectual privileges in order to make of Him ' a 
high Priest who can have compassion on our infir- 
mities.' Fulness of knowledge, on the contrary, 
makes of Christ the High Priest. To make of the 
absence of knowledge a means of sanctity is a 
theological trick peculiarly distasteful to the 
Catholic mind ; above all, one cannot see how the 
Son of God made man could have gained anything 
by willingly ignoring the facts of His Divine Son- 
ship. Even if it had been possible for Him to 
exclude such knowledge from His mind, it would 
have been loss, not gain, to His cause, as His life 
must necessarily have been lowered through this 
very forgetfulness of His divine origin. It is a 
very strange phase of thought in our own days to 
look for moral progress to ignorance instead of to 
knowledge, as does the older theology. 

There is only one way in which Catholic 
theology admits a kind of voluntary limitation 
of His knowledge by Christ. Catholic theology 
distinguishes between actual and habitual know- 
ledge. I may know a thing and yet not consider 
it actually ; I may even make an effort of will and 
turn away my mind from the actual consideration 


of an object, and in this sense it may even be 
profitable to sanctity ' to ignore/ Thus if I am 
asked to perform an act of kindness which is difficult 
to me, there might be human considerations of an 
inferior order of such a nature as to reconcile me with 
the performance of my duty. Such considerations 
I discard ; I turn away my eyes from them ; I fix 
my mind on higher motives, less alluring and less 
potent, but infinitely purer. In this case my 
spirituality has gained through a restriction of 
actual knowledge. 

In Christ there was likewise actual knowledge 
and habitual knowledge, at least in the inferior 
planes of His science ; but Catholic theology is 
most constant in asserting that Christ realised His 
Divinity constantly, unceasingly, with His whole 
being ; but it is not against Catholic theology 
to say that Christ in the lower sphere of His 
knowing powers did not always consider actually 
all the things He knew. We are even permitted 
to think that Christ in His great struggle with sin, 
of set purpose, turned His human attention away, 
at times at least, from the glorious vision of the 
results of His cross in the world of souls, in order 
that He might drink the cup of bitterness with more 
heroic constancy. In this sense we may grant 
that Kenosis has something to do with knowledge. 
It is not exactly ignorance, but rather an absence 
of consideration. It is perhaps that very thing 


which Anglican divines are striving after when 
they attempt to make of ignorance in the Son of 
God an occasion of greater heroism. We may 
grant to them that our Lord at various periods, 
of set purpose, turned away His human attention 
from considerations that would have filled Him 
with gladness if He had allowed them to force 
themselves on His mind. 



The phrase ' in Christ ' occurs nearly eighty times 
in St. Paul's epistles ; frequently it is translated 
into * by,' ' through/ ' for the sake of ' Christ. Yet 
such alterations ought not to deprive us of the 
wealth of mystical meaning contained in the original 
phrase ' in Christ.' We have a right to the literal 
application of the Pauline expression. To alter 
it into anything less emphatic is to tamper with 
our spiritual inheritance. 

Let us first dwell on the deep originality of the 
phrase, on its strangeness, if we compare it with 
ordinary human speech. No doubt it is this very 
strangeness that may have led the translators to 
the adoption of less significant prepositions to 
take the place of the ' in.' 

One could hardly think of a phrase, say in 
English, or German, or French, or Italian, or Latin, 
or Greek — a phrase destined to express some one's 
influence on some one else, with the intervention 
and co-operation of a third person, where the 


preposition ' in ' would be aptly employed to 
convey the mode of that third person's intervention 
or co-operation. I may feel most anxious about 
the moral conduct of a favourite brother of mine. 
No concern in the world is nearer to my heart than 
his salvation from ruin. There is one redeeming 
point in him. He is fond of our common sister, 
a paragon of virtue and love. In her is all my 
hope. Both for my sake and her own she follows 
the scapegrace, she wins him back through her 
masterful delicacy. No words could describe what 
my gratitude to her really is. I feel that she has 
made this salvation possible ; yet my speech would 
be foolish if I said that I saved my brother ' in ' 
her. I saved him through her, I say, and more I 
could not say. 

Yet St. Paul prefers the first form of speech. 
God saves me not through His Son, but in His 
Son. It is not merely an idiosyncrasy of St. Paul's 
style — in fact, the idiosyncrasy would hardly be 
short of a barbarism — it is a necessity of St. Paul's 
theology. Let us take as an instance St. Paul's 
magnificent passage in the second chapter of the 
Epistle to the Ephesians. I keep the prepositions 
as they are in the Greek text. ' But God who is 
rich in mercy, for his exceeding charity wherewith 
he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath 
quickened us together in Christ, by whose grace 
you are saved ; and hath raised us up together, 


and hath made us sit together in the heavenly 
places in Christ Jesus, that he might show in 
the ages to come the abundant riches of his 
grace, in his bounty towards us in Christ Jesus. 
. . . For we are his workmanship created in Christ 
Jesus in good works, which God hath prepared that 
we should walk in them.' 

The most remarkable association of words in 
this most remarkable passage is the verse : ' And 
he hath made us sit together in the heavenly 
places in Christ Jesus.' The Douai translator 
for one found the reduplication of the ' in ' too 
much for him, and he calmly translates ' in the 
heavenly places through Christ.' In fact, in 
ordinary grammar the phrase would sound ludic- 
rous ; but nowhere do we find St. Paul guilty 
of a careless use of prepositions. He distinguishes 
carefully between the preposition of instrument- 
ality and the preposition that marks inclusion. 
Note, for instance, his phrase : x ' For if you 
have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet 
not many fathers. For in Christ Jesus by 
the Gospel I have begotten you.' The Greek 
and the Latin discriminate clearly between the 
two propositions. The constant use of the un- 
wonted term ' in ' simply points to a spiritual 
truth, clearly perceived by St. Paul, and for which 
no doubt there is no received phraseology in 

1 i Cor. iv, 15. 


the ordinary language. Christ's co-operation with 
God in the sanctification of the elect is expressed 
almost invariably by St. Paul, not as an action 
of God through Him, but as an action of God 
in Him. ' For God indeed was in Christ recon- 
ciling the world to himself.' 1 The action of God 
is confined within Christ's Personality, and making 
Him what He is, is God's way of saving and 
sanctifying the human race. ' In whom all the 
building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy 
temple in the Lord.' * 

1 2 Cor, v, 19. a Eph. ii. 21. 



Intellectual and philosophical ages are the 
high-water mark of human progress. They come 
and go with their blessings and dangers, as all 
the other manifestations of the activities of pro- 
gressive humanity come and go, according to 
unknown rules, almost with the regularity of the 
ocean tides. 

One of the blessings of a philosophical age 
is of course the love for the - universal,' for what 
is beyond the narrow limits of time and space. 
An unphilosophical, a positive and materialistic 
age has no love except for the particular fact, 
the thing that has avoirdupois and the thing that 
can be measured by an equivalent in hard cash. 
But this very love for the universal, which is 
the trait of a thinking generation, has its dangers : 
it leads to various forms of thought, to various 
' isms ' — the expression has become common 
enough to be used without an air of pretence — 
before which there stands the dangerous Greek 
prefix ' pan.' 


Pantheism, for one thing, is the most common 
intellectual sin in a philosophical age. The philo- 
sophical temper likes oneness in all things. We 
are all one God, we are all one Mind, we are all 
one Spirit, says the philosophical mind that has 
the defects of its qualities, an excessive love for 
the universal. 

May I be forgiven for coining an expression 
that represents a good deal of undefined thinking 
and feeling in our times — times in which the drift of 
human evolution sets in the direction of philosophical 
thought. May I be permitted to speak of ' pan- 
christism.' We are all Christ's, we are all instances 
of the Incarnation ; we are all sons of God ; there 
is a Christ within us all, etc. Phrases of similar 
import are as common in the writings and speeches 
of religious men of our own days as the criticisms 
of the day's weather are common in daily social 

The aberration is the defect of a great quality, 
the shadow cast by a great light : men are reluctant 
to make of a person quite outside themselves 
the principle of their higher life, though that person 
be of surpassing excellency. The very fact of 
' outsideness ' puts even the very personification of 
human excellency at a disadvantage, with regard 
to our own intimate life, if that personification 
be a concrete individual. At bottom, all pan- 
theistic and all ' pan-christic ' tendencies come 



from this deep-rooted aversion of the spiritually 
minded to make of an isolated individuality the 
principle of one's most intimate life. 

Against pantheism Christianity has the 
indwelling of the Holy Ghost, that great spiritual 
fact which brings man nearer to God than pantheism 
itself, as through it man is not only near God but 
above himself — above the potentialities of the plane 
of his own nature, an elevation quite unthinkable 
in the metaphysics of ordinary pantheism, where 
man is divine through the laws of his own spirit, 
and where therefore, logically, ascent is impossible, 
as man already is part of the Deity. If Christianity 
had no such spiritual fact as the indwelling of 
the Holy Ghost in the human soul, its fight with 
pantheism would have a poor outlook. Modern 
pan-christism is born from a narrowing of Christ's 
spiritual position. Let us give Christ the position 
of traditional Catholic theology, and we shall find 
in Him the life-giving principle of what is highest 
in us ; we shall find Him at the very root of our 
being, and yet we shall not feel tempted to break 
down the barriers of His wonderful individuality, 
with a view to making Him less personal and more 
communicable to us. One thing I may note here. 
Pan-christism is a modern form of aberration. 
It comes from a lingering faith in, and love for, 
Christ, unsustained by deep Christology. 

Our theology of Christ is not like a tale with a 


purpose, written just with a view to refute or 
redress or silence an error. Catholic and scholastic 
Christology received its completion long before 
the tendencies I call pan-christism. Yet such as 
Catholic Christianity is to-day, it is to pan-christism 
what the indwelling of the Holy Ghost is to 
pantheism — its cure, its refutation, and, above all, 
its higher and healthier substitute. 

A literal interpretation of many of Christ's utter- 
ances points decidedly to the universal relationship 
of His person with the human race. 

' Father, the hour is come ; glorify the Son, 
that thy Son may glorify thee : as thou hast given 
him power over all flesh, that he may give eternal 
life to all whom thou hast given him.' * 

' My Father worketh until now, and I work. 
Hereupon therefore the Jews sought the more to 
kill him, because he did not only break the sabbath, 
but also said God was his Father, making himself 
equal to God. Then Jesus answered and said to 
them, Amen, Amen, I say unto you, The Son 
cannot do anything of himself, but what he seeth 
the Father doing ; for what things soever he doth, 
them the Son also doth in like manner. For the 
Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things 
which himself doth, and greater works than these 
will he shew him, that you may wonder. For as 
the Father raiseth up the dead, and giveth life ; 

1 St. John xvii. i, 2. 

I 2 


so also the Son giveth life to whom he will. For 
neither doth the Father judge any man, but 
hath given all judgment to the Son : that all men 
may honour the Son, as they honour the Father. 
He who honoureth not the Son honoureth not 
the Father who hath sent him. . . . For as the 
Father hath life in himself, so he hath given to the 
Son also to have life in himself : and he hath given 
him power to do judgment, because he is the Son 
of man/ * 

■ Now this is the will of my Father that sent me, 
that every one who seeth the Son, and believeth 
in him, may have life everlasting, and I will raise 
him up in the last day. . . . The bread that I 
will give is my flesh for the life of the 
World/ * 

It would be easy to multiply quotations that 
would establish beyond doubt the fact that Christ 
constantly attributes to Himself not only a univers- 
ality of relationship with the human race, but a 
relationship of life, a relationship of light, He being 
to all men of good will what is most subjective 
in man, spiritual life and spiritual light. 

This filling up of creation by Christ is a cherished 
idea with St. Paul in the Epistle to the Ephesians. 
' He [God] hath subjected all things under his 
[Christ's] feet : and hath made him head over all 
the Church, which is his body, and the fulness of 
1 St. John v, 17 seq t * St. John vi, 40, 31, 


him, who is filled all in all.' * ' To know also the 
charity of Christ, which surpasseth all knowledge, 
that you may be filled unto all the fulness of God.' a 
' He [Christ] that descended is the same also that 
ascended above all the heavens, that he might 
fill all things. . . . Until we all meet into the unity 
of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, 
unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of 
the fulness of Christ.' 8 

This idea of fulness stands for the greatest 
spiritual facts in the New Testament. ' And of 
his fulness we all have received, and grace for grace.' 4 
1 For in him [Christ] dwelleth the fulness of the 
Godhead corporally.' 6 Consummate sanctity is to 
be filled with the Holy Ghost in the language of 
the New Testament. 

When therefore we see Christ spoken of so 
insistently as a filling up of the capacities of the 
spiritual world, we are confronted by a spiritual 
fact of the highest importance — a fact as great 
as the filling up of the human heart by the Holy 
Ghost, a fact that is the parallel of that fulness 
of the indwelling of Divinity in Christ Himself. 
If there is the indwelling of the Spirit of God in 
man, there is also the indwelling of Christ in man's 
heart. ' That Christ may dwell by faith in your 
hearts ' 8 is a saying as pregnant with the realities 

1 Eph. i, 22, 23. a Eph, iii, io, » Eph. iv. 10, 13. 

* St. John i, 1 5. • Col. ii, 9. • Eph. iii. 17. 


of true spiritual immanence as that other phrase : 
1 Know you not that you are the temple of God, and 
that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ? ' ■ 

There is nothing left that a mystical lover of 
Christ could desire in the way of oneness with Him 
than that such phraseology should be taken literally. 
Christ's lover may not possess the theological 
training that enables the mind to conceive psychic 
possibilities of such a nature as will make the 
literal interpretation of the texts the most obvious 
interpretation ; but his spiritual instinct will all 
be in favour of as intimate an indwelling of Christ 
in the human race as possible. The idea of the 
■ fulness ' is for his mystical powers ; the idea of 
the instrumentum conjunctum Divinitatis is for his 
reasoning powers. The two ideas complete each 

' As thou hast sent me into the world, I also 
have sent them into the world. And for them 
do I sanctify myself, that they also may be sancti- 
fied in truth. And not for them only do I pray, 
but for them also who through their word shall 
believe in me ; that they all may be one, as thou 
Father, in me, and I in thee, that they also may 
be one in us : that the world may believe that thou 
hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast 
given me I have given to them ; that they may 
be one, as we also are one ; I in them, and thou 

1 I Cor, iii, 16, 


in me, that they may be made perfect in one : 
and the world may know that thou hast sent me. 

' As thou hast sent me into the world, I also have 
sent them into the world.' x 

The Pauline idea of God's merciful operations 
taking place within Christ's personality, deep 
as it is, is not deeper than the Johannine view 
expressed in this passage. St. John states most 
unequivocally the doctrine of our being Christ's 
fulness, the doctrine of the pleroma ; for such is the 
Greek for it. 

I do not think that we could find anywhere in 
the scriptures words more pregnant with mystical 
significance of the highest order, and words more 
illuminating as to the real meaning of our being 
sanctified in Christ, and our being the ' filling up ' 
the pleroma of Christ. 

In the Epistle to the Colossians chapter ii., 
we find St. Paul making the same juxtaposition of 
that double presence in Christ, the presence of God 
and the presence in Him of the Elect. ' For 
in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead, 
corporally ; and you are filled in him, who is the 
head of all principality and power.' ' I in them, 
and thou in me'; such is the double filling up 
constituted by the mystery of the Incarnation. 

The pleroma is essentially a glory that is 
inside Christ, not outside Him. The first chapter 

1 St, John xvii. 18, seq. 


to the Colossians makes this perfectly clear. 
After saying that Christ is the image of the 
unseen God, that all the heavenly powers are 
created in Him, are kept together in Him, that He 
is the head of the Church, the Apostle says,' Because 
in him it has well pleased (the father) that all fulness 
should dwell.' This indwelling of the pleroma in 
Him is the reason of the Divine, Angelic, and 
Church orders being united in Him. Christ there- 
fore has a threefold pleroma, and all three dwell 
within Him. 

The second and third, the Church pleroma, 
interact, i.e. Christ's fills up the angelic world 
and the Church, and He is filled up by them. 
His dwelling in a created spirit is the created 
spirit's dwelling in Him. ' He that eateth my 
flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I 
in him. As the living father hath sent me, and I 
live by the father ; so he that eateth me, the same 
also shall live by me.' * 

This mutuality of indwelling between Christ 
and His elect is clearly a New Testament idea. 

In Eph. i. 23 Christ is said to be filled up all in 
all, passively. In Eph. iv. 10 Christ is said actively 
to fill up all things. Finally, in Col. ii. 10 the 
faithful are said to be filled up in Him, passively. 
In the light of that mutuality of indwelling, so 
clearly stated in St. John's Gospel, these various 

1 St. John vi, 56, 57, 


modes of speech easily point to the same spiritual 
reality, a great compenetration between Christ 
and the Elect. : 

Another parallelism worth remarking is found 
in St. Paul's expression in 1 Cor. xv. 28, where he 
describes the consummation of all things after 
the Resurrection, when God will be all things 
in all. ' That God may be all in all.' Now this 
phrase ' all in all ' is used with regard to Christ as 
a predicate in Eph. i. 23 ; only instead of saying 
that Christ is all in all, St. Paul says that He is 
filled all in all. 

' And when all things shall be subjected unto 
him [Christ], then the Son also himself shall be 
subjected unto him that put all things under him, 
that God may be all in all. 1 This is the formula 
for the true pantheism of Christianity. ' And he 
[the Father] hath subjected all things under 
his feet, and hath made him head over all the 
church, which is his body, and the fulness of him 
who is filled all in all.' 2 This is our true and most 
consoling pan-christism. 

1 1 Gor, xv. 28. P Eph, i, 22, 23. 


Christ's reserves 

It may be a practical difficulty to many minds to 
find happiness in that hierarchy of sublimities that 
constitute the God-man, as such a hierarchy with its 
division of glories and attributes may not be con- 
ducive to love ; yet the mystery of Christ ought 
to be the sweetest of all mysteries. It has therefore 
occurred to me that the hierarchical gradation of 
sanctities and glories in Christ could be best 
expressed through the English word ' reserve ' ; 
they are so many reserves of graces and glories that 
make Christ's Personality so intensely attractive. 

When we are in contact with people whom we 
believe to be possessed of high moral or intel- 
lectual qualities, who have done brave deeds or 
said wise things, the daily ordinary intercourse 
with them has wonderful charm, owing to our 
impression that there is a great reserve of 
superior power in them. Most of our intercourse 
is of the ordinary character, yet all along we feel 
that there is something higher, and this latent 


conviction lends additional charm to the daily 

This is the kind of simile I would fain propose 
to those that approach the Son of God. He is 
the Son of man. He is a perfect man ; you will 
find in Him all the charms of perfect humanity. 
Go deep into that humanity and love it tenderly; 
very soon you will find that behind the humanity 
there is a wonderful reserve of grace that is more 
than human. You feel its presence, though it 
may not act directly ; but there is such a majesty 
in that humanity as to make it clear that the 
humanity is passing into something more than 
human. If that superhuman element is approached, 
there again it is such as to point to a tremendous 
reserve behind it. There is the Divine Personality 
deeply concealed underneath the created glories 
and graces, and lending them that infinitude of 
vista and possibility which it is so refreshing for 
the created spirit to catch a glimpse of. Christ's 
glorious finitudes sweetly and gradually are merged 
into the infinitudes of His Divine Personality. 
We enter into Him as man, His humanity is the 
door, we go out of His Humanity into His angelic 
life, into His divine life, and our mind finds indeed 
its pasture in Him. ' I am the door : by me if any 
man enter in, he shall be saved, he shall go in and 
go out, and shall find pastures/ 1 
1 St, John X. 9, 


Nothing could be more refreshing than to read 
St. John's Gospel in the light of this idea of reserve. 
The Jewish mind is puzzled, is irritated with this 
wonderful personality of Christ. They cannot 
make him out ; they quarrel amongst themselves 
about Him ; they feel, in spite of themselves, that 
there is something extraordinary behind His human 
appearance. It is not only His miracles that are 
extraordinary, His whole personality is an enigma. 
His enemies, in true Jewish fashion, have a ready 
explanation for this incomprehensible masterful- 
ness of the hated Rabbi. He has within Himself an 
evil spirit. ■ The Jews therefore answered and 
said to him, Do we not say well that thou art a 
Samaritan, and hast a devil ? . . . Now we know 
that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the 
prophets ; and thou say est, If any man keep my word 
he shall not taste death for ever. Art thou greater 
than our Father Abraham, who is dead ?' x 

But a dissension arose again among the Jews for 
these words, 'And many of them said, He has a 
devil, and is mad ; why hear you him ? Others said, 
These are not the words of one who hath a devil. 
Can a devil open the eyes of the blind ? ' 2 

The Gospel of St. John is in fact full of asser- 
tions on Christ's part as to the presence in Him 
of glories that do not appear to the eye. ' Amen, 
Amen, I say to thee that we speak what we know, 

1 St. John viii, 48-53. 2 St. John x, 19-21. 


and we testify what we have seen ; and you receive 
not our testimony. If I had spoken to you earthly 
things, and you believed not, how will you believe 
if I shall speak to you heavenly things, and no man 
has ascended into heaven but he that descendeth 
from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.' 1 

It might be said without exaggeration that the 
whole trend of Christ's discourses, as well as the 
Baptist's testimony in the fourth Gospel, is this : 
there is more in this man than appears to the eye ; 
even His miracles, great as they are, do not give the 
measure of His greatness ; but they entitle Him to 
be listened to even when He says that He and the 
Father are one. Quotations to that effect could 
be multiplied so as to make of the chapter a kind 
of resume of St. John's Gospel. A few more must 
suffice. ' And it was the feast of the dedication at 
Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked 
in the Temple in Solomon's porch. The Jews there- 
fore came round about Him, and said to Him, How 
long dost thou hold our souls in suspense ? If thou 
be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, 
I speak to you, and you believe not ; the works that 
I do in the name of My Father, they give testimony 
of me. . . . 

1 1 and the Father are one. The Jews then 
took up stones to stone Him. Jesus answered 
them : Many good works I have shewn you from 

1 St. John iii, 11-13, 


my Father ; for which of those works do you stone 
me ? The Jews answered Him, For a good 
work we stone thee not, but for the blasphemy ; 
and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself 
God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in 
your law, I said, You are gods ? If he called them 
gods, to whom the word of God was spoken (and 
the scripture cannot be broken), do you say of 
him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent 
into the world, Thou blasphemest ; because I 
said I am the Son of God ? If I do not the works 
of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though 
you will not believe me, believe the works ; that 
you may know, and believe, that the Father is 
in me, and I in the Father. They sought there- 
fore to take him, and he escaped out of their hands.' 
One cannot resist quoting once more. From 
the fierce antagonism of the Pharisee let us come 
to the good-natured perplexity of the disciples 
themselves, of Philip, the ingenious questioner 
in the Gospel, and let us hear the divine answer 
given with wonderful playfulness. ' If you had 
known me, you would without doubt have known 
my Father also ; and from henceforth you shall 
know him, and you have seen him. Philip saith 
to him : Lord, shew us the Father, and it is enough 
for us. Jesus saith to him : So long a time have 
I been with you, and have you not known me ? 
Philip, he that seeth me, seeth the Father also 


How sayest thou, Shew us the Father ? Do you 
not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father 
in me ? The words that I speak to you I speak 
not of myself : but the Father who abideth in 
me, he doth the works. Believe you not that I 
am in the Father, and the Father in me?' 



In our chapter entitled ' Reserve ' we have tried 
to give of Christ's complex Personality such a 
view as to make contemplation of Him a sweet 
and gradual ascent from winsomeness unto 
winsomeness within that human nature in which, 
according to St. Paul, Godhead had taken up 
a bodily abode. ' For in him dwelleth all the 
fulness of the Godhead, corporally.' * 

There is one theological truth which is of im- 
portance, if we are to relish the mystery of Christ, 
and the truth is this : Though Christ's Person- 
ality be an ever-ascending succession of spiritual 
sublimities, there was during His mortal life a check 
put on those sublimities by God's omnipotence, lest 
through the presence in Christ's soul of such 
marvellous vitalities, Christ's soul should not be 
a sharer in our common state of mortality. 

St. Thomas, always so reluctant to admit 
exceptional interposition of God's providence, is 

1 Col. ii. 9. 


compelled to confess that God prevented the 
higher graces in the soul of Christ, such as Beatific 
Vision, from making themselves felt within Christ's 
soul according to their full possibilities. 

It is evident that the presence of such a gift 
as the clear vision of God within a human spirit 
by ordinary law ought to dispel any cloud of 
sadness from that spirit. To see God face to 
face as Christ saw Him is a happiness so intense 
as to raise the subject's soul and body above 
the sphere of sorrow and suffering. 

Yet Christ was sorrowful in the deepest and 
holiest regions of His soul. He suffered in His 
body, He suffered in every one of His mental 
faculties. We are therefore to admit a psycho- 
logical miracle in Christ, the only psychological 
miracle within Him known to theology. It is 
a miracle of wonderful subtlety, showing clearly 
what possibilities there must be in the human 
soul. Beatific Vision and the other spiritual 
sublimities were all there, in full activity ; all 
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were within 
His intellect. ' In whom are hid all the treasures 
of wisdom and knowledge.' * 

And yet by a direct intervention of God, as St. 

Thomas says, they did not flow over ; they were 

kept back from certain regions of Christ's soul, 

from certain powers of Christ's body, in order that 

1 Col. ii. 3, 


Christ should have power to suffer and to merit, 
to be sorrowful and to be fearful for the redeemed. 

It was a psychological miracle because it was the 
suspension of effects that should naturally have 
followed, and I say that it is the only miracle in 
Christ's Person ; His Person as such is not exactly 
a miracle, it is a wonder, the greatest of all wonders ; 
but it is not the suspension of any laws, it is, on the 
contrary, the application of the highest laws of God's 
power, whilst a miracle always implies a suspension 
of a result that ought to be. 

The modern rationalist may find it difficult to see 
in the Jesus of Nazareth, who was obedient to His 
parents, the Christ of St. Paul such as He is described 
in the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians, 
though, as a matter of history, the aforesaid Episties 
were written before the Gospel of St. Luke. We 
admit that without a direct miracle the Christ in 
whom all the fulness was pleased to dwell, ' Because 
in him it hath well pleased the Father that all 
fulness should dwell,' could not have been the boy 
who sat among the doctors at the age of twelve, 
asking questions and receiving answers from them. 
There was in Him another kind of reserve, taking 
reserve now in its active meaning ; there was a 
miraculous keeping back from certain regions of His 
Personality of the glories of His Godhead. 

This is what is meant by the constant theological 
expression that Christ was at the same time cotnpre- 


hensor and viator — that is to say, a seer of God and 
a wayfarer, a pilgrim abroad and a guest in the 
Father's house. ' And no man hath ascended into 
heaven but he that descendeth from heaven, the 
Son of man who is in heaven.' * He was at the 
same time full of the eternal life and subject to the 
agonies of human death ; the highest regions of His 
soul were thrilled with the joys of the Blessed Vision, 
and those same regions were saddened with the sight 
of the world's iniquities ; for it would not be gener- 
ous to think of our Lord's soul having happiness in 
its highest faculties and sorrow merely in its lower 
powers. His sorrow was a divine sorrow, as it 
was sorrow for the creature's theological guilt ; 
as such, it had to be in the noblest part of His soul, 
where there was the thrill of Beatific Vision. 

But such division of soul and spirit, such 
blending of light and darkness, is a miracle, and, as 
I have said, it is only the abnormal thing in Christ 's 
Personality. The abnormality ceased when He gave 
up His soul to the Father on the cross. 

1 St, John iii. 13, 

K 2 



Christ's attitude towards physical and mental 
suffering is of immense practical significance for 
man's daily life, as well as for the progress of civili- 
sation. We are far to-day from the times that 
admired a nature ' red in tooth and claw/ and it 
becomes a very pressing question on the Christian 
theologian how the wonderful victories over physical 
pain won by modern science are in line with the 
gospel of the Cross. 

I think it profitable to my patient reader to give 
him an exhaustive rendering of the theological 
teaching concerning Christ's attitude towards pain 
and suffering. Morbidness, even in excelsis, is 
unforgiveable, and it is perhaps all the more dele- 
terious to healthy soul-life because it is stretched 
into infinitude. 

By Christ's body we mean of course the whole 
extent of Christ's sensitive life, which, more than 
any other human life, is a wonderful summary of all 
that is beautiful in the physical world. No human 


intellect can fathom the possibilities of an organism 
vivified and elevated by a soul so perfect as was 
Christ's soul. That suffering and death should 
enter into such an organism is a thought more 
appalling than that sin should have been found in 
the angels of God. It is only our familiarity with the 
mystery of the Cross that makes us look on Christ's 
sufferings as on an obvious natural phenomenon. 

The wondering compassion of the saints who are 
overawed and stirred in their souls with the thought 
that God suffered is by no means a misplaced 
sentiment. For Christ, in His Humanity, was 
entitled, by all the laws of the Hypostatic Union, 
to an absolutely divine immunity from pain and 
suffering. Divinity itself could never be subject 
to any kind of suffering whatsoever. It would 
be the worst of all blasphemies to say that 
God, in His own life, could experience any con- 
trariety. No created gain could come from the 
Creator's loss, as there is nothing so profitable to 
the finite being as that infinitude should inhabit 
the region of unassailable bliss, to which every 
creature may tend as to the unalterable felicity. 
With Divinity, suffering is an absolute contradiction 
in terms, both from the point of view of God's life 
and God's sanctity. A strong God, as well as a 
holy God, is infinitely above every thinkable sort 
of disappointment. Now this aloofness from sorrow 
is Christ's natural condition from the very laws of 


Hypostatic Union. The divinity of Christ's person 
is in itself such an exemption from the ordinary 
laws of mortality that no exclamation of surprise 
on the lips of the lover of Jesus at seeing Him suffer 
and die can be too strong. 

Theology starts with the assertion that Christ's 
normal condition would have been unassailable 
bliss of mind and invulnerable glory of body ; that 
both mind and body in Him should have become 
a prey to pain and sorrow and death is the result 
of a miracle. Through an act of His omnipotence, 
Christ in His own person suspended the natural law 
of Hypostatic Union, the law that makes complete 
bliss of mind the immortality of the body. Through 
the fact of Hypostatic Union Christ's human mind 
was endowed, from the very first moment of its 
own self-consciousness, with the clear vision of God, 
commonly called Beatific Vision. Now, such a 
completeness of blissful contemplation brings with 
itself a quickening and a glorifying of the whole 
bodily organism, such as theology teaches will take 
place in the glorious resurrection of the elect at 
the end of the world. A glorified mind— that is to 
say, a mind under Beatific Vision — means a glorified 
body, by a natural concomitance or causality, 
which theologians call redundantia — a flowing over 
of the higher bliss into the lower powers. This 
redundantia is a natural psychological law. 

With Christ, or rather in Christ, this law was 


miraculously suspended by His own omnipotence. 
The term ' miracle ' taken technically is not too 
strong to describe this great spiritual anomaly in 
Christ's Personality. A miracle is a suspension of 
the results of the ordinary laws, either material 
or spiritual, by a direct divine interposition. Fire, 
whilst remaining fire and keeping its activity, 
and yet not burning a naturally combustible object 
within its range, is a miracle. Both the fire and 
the combustible object must remain in their native 
state in order that there should be a suspension 
of laws. If divine omnipotence changed, say, 
the nature of the combustible to make it fireproof, 
there would be no suspension of laws ; it would not 
be the kind of miracle that would need necessarily 
divine omnipotence. My reader will readily forgive 
my digression if I remind him of my aim in all 
this : Christ's immunity, by birthright, from 
suffering. Such was His immunity that the 
suspension of that immunity belongs to the class 
of miraculous effects best instanced by fire and 
straw keeping their respective properties and not 
burning when brought into contact. 

Nothing but such faith in Christ's immunity 
could make us grasp the meaning of scriptural 
expressions like the one in St. Paul's Epistle to 
the Philippians, chapter ii. 

1 For let this mind be in you, which was also 
in Christ Jesus : who, being in the form of God, 


thought it not robbery to be equal with God : but 
emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, 
being made in the likeness of men, and in habit 
found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming 
obedient unto death, even the death of the cross/ 

All the humiliation and abasement of the 
Incarnation lie in this doctrine. The union of 
the Second Person of the Trinity, with a finite 
created nature, could never be considered as the 
' humiliation.' It is, on the contrary, one of 
the masterpieces of God's omnipotence. Moreover, 
Divinity itself could not be ' abased ' without 
infinite loss to the whole creation, besides its being 
inherently impossible, as I have said already. But 
that Christ should appear under the form of a 
servant, as slave, was indeed humiliation, and 
abasement inconceivably great. The Risen Christ, 
the Christ of to-day, has no shadow of humilia- 
tion. Hypostatic Union with a glorified human 
nature, such as was postulated by the very laws 
of Christ's Beatific Vision would have lacked 
completely the element of humiliation. 

I now quote St. Thomas himself, stating the 
great psychological miracle inside Christ's Person. 
1 By the power of His Divinity, as a special dis- 
pensation (dispensative), bliss was thus kept back 
in the soul, that it did not flow down into the 
body, lest the power of suffering and of dying 
should be taken away from Him. And in the 


same way the delights of the vision were thus 
pent up in His mind, that nothing of these went 
down to the sensitive powers, lest by that sense- 
suffering should be rendered impossible/ 1 

The best paraphrase on this very tersely put 
doctrine is given by Cajetan, when he comments 
on the doctrine of St. Thomas on Christ's Trans- 
figuration. 2 So persistent are the views of those 
great thinkers as to the miraculous nature of 
Christ's passibleness, that Cajetan, in speaking of the 
momentary glory of Christ's body in the Trans- 
figuration, considers such a manifestation a new 
miracle, because the first miracle — the miracle 
of the suspension — was to be of so permanent a 
character that its cessation for a moment meant 
another interference on the part of Omnipotence. 
1 Let us grant therefore that both phenomena were 
miraculous ; I mean that Christ's body should not 
shine (with glory), and that it shone thus in the 
Transfiguration. But the former is part of the first 
and, so to say> universal and old (antiquum) miracle 
that took place in the Incarnation, by which was 
suspended that communication of glory from the 
Soul to the Body of Christ, in order that He might 
have a passible body. . . . The latter phenomenon 
belongs to a special miracle, by which was granted 
that moment, to the passible body, the power of 

1 Quest. 15, art. 5, ad 3 m, ! Quest. 45, art. 2. 


After establishing the principles of Christ's 
natural immunity from suffering, and of His natural 
right to highest beatific bliss of soul and body, 
our theology inquires how much of human pain 
and sadness Christ took upon Himself. For the 
miraculous suspension was anything but a wanton 
courting of human misery. That He should take 
as much and no more than was necessary for the 
aim of His Incarnation is to be taken for granted, 
on the principle that He acted with consummate 
wisdom and prudence in everything, as He is the 
Incarnate Wisdom of God. 

In the fourth article of question 14 St. Thomas 
has an exhaustive study as to the kind of human 
infirmities and passibilities which it was fit for 
Christ to take upon Himself. The ruling principle 
is the raising up of the human race through the 
Incarnation. Only such infirmities were to be 
assumed which were co-extensive with the race 
itself, and whose healing in Christ would affect 
the healing of the whole race. Infirmities that 
come from private causes, not universal racial 
causes, Christ had not to take upon Himself. 
St. Thomas quotes hunger and thirst and death 
as racial infirmities. Other infirmities called illness 
are not racial ; they come from particular causes. 
However vast those causes may be, they are not 
universal and co-extensive with the race itself. 

No doubt it would be difficult, at this time of 


the day, to say what limitations in our bodily 
well-being are racial, and what are of less com- 
prehensive an origin. No doubt a human organism 
with just the racial limitations in it, without any 
vestige of decadence that comes from heredity, 
would be a marvellous fount of life. Yet, in strict 
theology, Christ's body was such. His own per- 
sonal wisdom and moderation of life made any 
suffering that comes from an ignorance of the art 
of life absolutely unthinkable. It is practically 
impossible for us to grasp what a supremely refined 
life Christ's was, from this absence of any hereditary 
taint. His body had been fashioned by the Holy 
Ghost Himself from a stainless human blood. 
Moreover, as St. Thomas points out in this same 
article, as fulness of grace and wisdom was as 
necessary to the work of the Incarnation as suffering, 
Christ could never have allowed in Himself any 
defect that would have interfered in the least with 
such a perfection of holiness and knowledge : there 
was no ignorance in Him, no mental tardiness, no 
contradiction between the higher and the lower 
powers. Though such defects may be racial in 
their extent, yet Christ took exception to them, 
as they are in opposition to consummate sanctity. 
We owe great thanks to our theology for having 
kept our Christ in this serene height of bodily 
purity and health, for having made it possible for 
us to find in Him at the same time the most perfect 


example of patience in pain and suffering, as well 
as the undying fount of spiritual and bodily health. 

It is evident from all this that nothing is less 
in conformity with the Christ idea than the accumu- 
lation of hereditary infirmities that weigh down 
mankind. Christ banished them from His own 
body ; so it is a Christian policy, so to speak, to 
banish them from the human race to any extent 
human means may allow. 

On the other hand, when such infirmities have 
taken hold on us, their patient endurance becomes 
closely allied with Christ's patience on the cross. 
For though He did not take such infirmities on 
Himself, He willingly took those older and more 
universal infirmities that are the parents of newer 
forms of suffering. 

To a suggestion that it would have been more 
generous of Christ to take on Himself every kind 
of human weakness, in order to heal them all, 
St. Thomas answers: 'To the first objection I 
answer that all particular defects in men are caused 
by the corruptibility and passibility of the body, 
with the addition of certain particular causes. 
And therefore as Christ healed the passibility and 
corruptibility of our body by the very fact of 
taking them on Himself, as a consequence He has 

healed all the other defects.' > 

Christ's body is a source of life through its 
1 Quest. 14, Art. 4. 


matchless perfection of nature and grace. St. 
Thomas insists frequently on the causes of this 
most heavenly temperament of Christ's bodily 
frame : the active generative cause and the passive 
material element. The Holy Ghost Himself is 
the first, and Mary's most pure blood is the second, 
of the two total causes of our Lord's human body. 
Who can tell the riches of health and life and 
grace hidden in an organism of such origin ? Signi- 
ficantly St. Thomas teaches in article two of the 
eighth question that Christ is the head of men both 
through His soul and His body. ' Therefore the 
whole humanity of Christ — that is to say both 
according to (His) soul and (His) body — exerts an 
influence on men, both with regard to (their) soul 
and with regard to (their) body. 



Christ's passing at the age of thirty from ordinary 
human life into one of power, claiming to be that 
of the Son of God, was abrupt and unexpected. 
Nothing in His daily existence had prepared His 
townsmen for this sudden exchange of roles. That 
He was the village carpenter is evident from the 
phrase on the lips of the people of Nazareth, quoted 
by St. Mark. ' And when the sabbath was come, 
he began to teach in the synagogue : and many 
hearing him were in admiration at his doctrine, 
saying, How came this man by all these things ? 
and what wisdom is this that is given to him, and 
such mighty works as are wrought by his hands ? 
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the 
brother of James, and Joseph, and Jude, and 
Simon ? Are not also his sisters here with us ? And 
they were scandalised in regard of him/ 1 

St. Joseph was dead, and Jesus had succeeded to 
his foster-father's modest business. St. Matt. xiii. 55 
makes the people of Nazareth say : ' Is not this 

1 Mark vi. 2, 3. 


the carpenter's son ? ' whilst St. Mark's text points 
clearly to the fact that Jesus Himself had followed 
the parental avocation. 

Adam Bede has become the classical instance, 
in English literature, of the noble son of the soil, 
grand in his simple manhood, for whom it was 
God's will that he should be a good carpenter. 
There is no profaneness in thinking of Christ, at 
Nazareth, going about His work in the simple 
uprightness of a strong and straightforward man, 
to whom the great secrets of His spiritual life were 
never a temptation even to look mysterious and 

The Gospel narratives are documents of supreme 
good taste. The element of useless mysteriousness, 
of irritating secretiveness is entirely banished 
from them. The apocrypha, on the contrary, 
exploit bravely this situation, so full of possible 
thrills for the vulgar mind, a human being that is 
a God, and yet of set purpose hiding his identity, 
with just enough hints and glimpses given to the 
entourage to make the situation interesting, till 
finally the veil falls. 

No human being ever possessed the noble quality 
of reserve in the degree it was possessed by the divine 
carpenter, the son of David. 

But when the hour of His manifestation came, 
it came with incontrovertible clearness and irre- 
sistible power. It came as an immense surprise to 


Christ's friends and acquaintances. In their be- 
wilderment they had the one explanation always at 
hand for nonplussed family circles, sudden insanity. 
' And when his friends had heard of it, they went out 
to lay hold on him : for they said, He is become 
mad/ * 

The Baptism at the hands of John and the great 
fast with its mysterious temptations were events 
still unknown to the world. John alone had seen 
the open heaven, had heard the voice from above. 
The calling of the first disciples, with such irresist- 
ible imperiousness of will, was Christ's first asser- 
tion of His Divinity. A few days later there was 
the miracle at Cana, the first sign. From that day 
Christ's progress was rapid and overpowering, so 
that He could not openly go into the city, but was 
without in desert places ; and they flocked to Him 
from all sides. ■ But he being gone out, began to 
publish and to blaze abroad the word ; so that he 
could not openly go into the city, but was with- 
out in desert places : and they flocked to him 
from all sides.' 2 The hatred of the Pharisaical 
body and their conspiracy to destroy Him are 
events that already belong to the first months of 
Christ's public appearance. ' And the Pharisees 
going out, immediately made a consultation with 
the Herodians against him, how they might destroy 
him/ 8 

1 Mark iii, St. * Mark i, 45. s Mark iii* 6. 


The abruptness of this transition from the normal 
human existence into an all-bewildering manifesta- 
tion of superhuman powers, whilst perfectly com- 
patible with the principles of Hypostatic Union, 
contradicts any theory that makes of Christ's 
ascendancy the gradual evolution of a saintly life 
and superior personality. 

Jewish tradition, the outcome of the Jewish 
love for the marvellous and mysterious, was all in 
favour of a Christ whose origin would be wrapped 
up in impenetrable mystery. ' And behold he 
speaketh openly, and they say nothing to him. 
Have the rulers known for a truth that this is the 
Christ. But we know this man whence he is : 
but when the Christ cometh, no man knoweth 
whence he is.' * 

No prophet's home life and early upbringing were 
so clearly known as Christ's. ' Jesus therefore cried 
out in the temple, teaching and saying, You both 
know me, and you know whence I am ; but I am 
not come of myself ; but he that sent me is true, 
whom ye know not.' a Everybody in Jerusalem 
knew that He belonged to the class of the illiterate. 
' And the Jews wondered, saying, How doth this 
man know letters, having never learned ? ' 3 The 
sudden reputation of the young teacher had no 
doubt produced a great eagerness and curiosity as 

1 St. John vii, 26, 27. I St, John vii. 28, 

• St. John vii, 15. 


to his antecedents. But there was nothing to learn, 
nothing to marvel at. The most ordinary, the 
most uneventful, past was the only thing that met 
the gaze of the inquisitive busybody. 

No religion indeed aims so little at the marvellous 
for its own sake as the religion of Christ. ' Ordi- 
nariness ' of condition is the rule, and there is no 
limit as to the spiritual worth that may be found 
within this ordinariness of the conditions of human 

It is precisely this complete ordinariness of His 
previous life that was the great stumbling-block to 
the Jewish mind. The greatest miracles seemed 
powerless to efface that first fact. The men of 
Nazareth were scandalised in regard of Him. ' Is 
not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother 
of James, and Joseph, and Jude, and Simon ? Are 
not also his sisters here with us ? And they were 
scandalised in regard of him.' * 

' And when the men were come unto him, they 
said, John the Baptist hath sent us to thee, saying : 
Art thou he that art to come, or look we for an- 
other ? (And in that same hour he cured many of 
their diseases, and hurts, and evil spirits ; and to 
many that were blind he gave sight.) And answer- 
ing, he said to them, Go and relate to John what 
you have heard and seen ; the blind see, the lame 
walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the 

1 Mark vi. 3, 


dead rise again, to the poor the gospel is preached : 
And blessed is he whosoever shall not be scandalised 
in me.' l This last verse seems a strange conclusion 
to that enumeration of miraculous deeds of the 
highest order, such as the raising up of the dead. 
But it finds its natural commentary in the analo- 
gous passage of St. Mark, where Christ's nearest 
acquaintances are said to have been scandalised 
with regard to Him, though they admitted the fact 
of the ' mighty works ' as ' wrought by his hands/ 
All this goes to show how completely Christ took 
His countrymen by surprise when He began to 
1 manifest His glory.' 2 

Christ had His ' hour.' ' And Jesus saith to 
her : Woman what is that to me and to thee ? 
my hour is not yet come.' 3 Before that hour had 
come, no power in the world, except the prayers 
of His mother, could open His lips, or get Him to 
reveal the ineffable secret of His Personality. 
But when He thought that the hour had come, 
the secret unburdened itself from His breast 
with the rush of a mighty stream. 

This complete mastery of Christ over His own 
feelings, His own destiny, expressed in the term 
' my hour,' is a cherished idea in the Gospel of St. 
John. Besides the passages just quoted, where it 
refers to the great transition from obscurity to 
Divinity, it marks other new phases of Christ's 

1 Luke vii, 20-23. * St, John ii, It, 3 St, John ii. 4, 

l 2 


career. ' They sought therefore to apprehend him : 
and no man laid hands on him, because his hour 
was not yet come.' * ' These words Jesus spoke in 
the treasury, teaching in the temple and no man 
laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet 
come.' 2 ' But Jesus answered them, saying : The 
hour is come, that the Son of Man should be 
glorified.' 3 • Before the festival day of the pasch, 
Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he 
should pass out of this world to the Father, having 
loved his own who were in the world, he loved 
them unto the end.' 4 

There is an apparent contradiction in the Gospels 
in this matter of Christ's manifestation. His birth 
was surrounded with the elements of the miraculous ; 
and not once is an appeal made to it in Christ's 
later career. It is hardly credible that the vision 
of the shepherds on the night of the Nativity, 
and the visit of the wise men from the East, left 
no traces on the popular imagination. After all, 
thirty years is not a long period, and for a nation 
like the Jewish nation, the marvellous is remembered 
with infinite care and delight. No doubt the 
traditions survived ; perhaps even they acquired 
volume and strength with time. But there is one 
providential circumstance told in the Gospels which 
alters the case completely : the rapid and prolonged 

1 St. John vii. 30. 9 St. John viii. 20, 

• St. John xii. 23. * St John xiii, 1. 


change of abode of the family round which there had 
been the momentary glory. The disappearance into 
Egypt of the ' Holy Family/ told by St. Matthew 
(chapter ii.), deprived the glorious tale of its hero, 
and instead of making the reputation of Mary's 
Son, it helped to swell the volume of fair legends 
that made everybody look to the immediate coming 
of the Messiah. Far from helping Christ's cause, 
they went against Him, as the fact of His having 
been born at Bethlehem was not known. ' Of 
that multitude therefore, when they had heard 
these words of his, some said, This is the prophet 
indeed. Others said, This is the Christ. But 
some said, Doth the Christ come out of Galilee ? 
Doth not the scripture say : that Christ cometh of 
the seed of David, and from Bethlehem, the town 
where David was ? So there arose a dissension 
among the people because of him.' * If the 
memory of the vision of the shepherds and of 
the star had survived, the carpenter from Galilee 
was to be the very last person to be associated with 
it. There was no such interruption in the traditions 
round the person of John the Baptist. ' And fear 
came upon all their neighbours ; and all these 
things were noised abroad over all the hill country 
of Judea. And all they that had heard them laid 
them up in their hearts, saying, What an one, 
think ye, shall this child be ? For the hand of the 

1 St. John vii, 40-43. 


Lord was with him.' * He was in the desert, it 
is true, but never far from the hills that had 
re-echoed the marvels of his birth. ' And the 
child grew, and was strengthened in spirit, 
and was in the deserts until the day of his mani- 
festation to Israel.' 2 It is not surprising therefore 
to find that the moment he showed himself to 
the world, without any miracle or signs on 
his part, he should have been thought Christ 
by the most sincere of the Jews. * And as the 
people were of opinion, and all were thinking in 
their hearts of John, that perhaps he might be 
the Christ ; John answered, saying unto all, I 
indeed baptise you with water ; but there shall 
come one mightier than I, the latchet of whose 
shoes I am not worthy to loose : he shall baptise 
you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.' 3 John's 
birth coincided closely enough with the period 
of the visit of the magi ; nothing was easier than 
to associate him vaguely with the events of Christ's 
birth. It is certainly a surprising thing that this 
offspring of the tribe of Levi should have been 
hailed as the Christ with such readiness, when it 
was one of the staunchest beliefs of the Jewish 
people that Christ would be the son of David. 

But if anything becomes clear, through the 
careful analysis of the New Testament documents, 

1 St, Luke i. 65, 66. * St. Luke i, 80, 

* St, Luke iii. 15, 16, 


it is this : the Son of Mary was the very last 
man who would have had the benefit of the Messianic 
legends and hopes, so ripe in the Jewish nation of 
His day. He had to stand on the strength of His 
own divine powers. To say that Christ owed His 
success to a clever use and exploitation of the 
popular Messianic expectations of the day is an 
open contempt of written history. 



Christ's life is the greatest of all biographies. 
It contains the root-elements of every biography 
worth reading : intense sincerity pitted against 
the elementary human passions of jealousy, pride, 
avarice, and cowardice, and these elements are 
found in their highest human power. 

It would be an immense spiritual loss to us 
if the thought of Christ's omnipotent control 
over His own destiny were apprehended by us 
in a sense that would diminish the sincerity and 
reality of the Christ-tragedy. We could never 
love deeply and perseveringly one in whose career 
there are unrealities, even if the unrealities were 
for the highest end. Thus if the treason of Judas 
had not been to Christ a disappointment as keen 
and as human as any betraying of confidence 
might be to me, the Lord's Passion would not 
be able to rivet my wondering sympathy. 

But we easily fall a prey to our limited imagin- 
ation, when our thoughts are busy with Christ. 


We put the operations of His Godhead there, 
from where He had withdrawn them. The im- 
pression under which we constantly live, that 
after all Christ had it in His power to avoid all 
the evils that befell Him, sometimes paralyzes our 
attempts to penetrate more deeply into the wonder- 
ful human sequel of the great biography. Now, 
though it is the saint's constant wonderment 
that Christ, having it in His power to escape from 
his enemies, did not escape, such a consideration 
is conducive to a deeper love of Christ then only 
when it is coupled with the consideration that 
the exercise of such a power would have meant 
a redemption inferior to the redemption under 
which we live now. If Christ did not exert His 
power, it was because there were grave reasons 
for Him to act thus, and the reasons were con- 
nected with man's greater spiritual welfare. 

The primary fact in Christ's history is His 
appearing in ' the form of a servant, being made 
in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a 
man.' It is the all-pervading element of the great 
biography, it is the one great fact which nothing 
could alter, because God had decided that for 
mankind's salvation such a form of incarnation 
was best. As great men are born with their 
characters, and as they are born into a definite 
state of human things, and as nothing can alter 
this primary fact, so likewise Christ had to appear 


in the form of a servant. No doubt it was in God's 
power to have made an incarnation that would 
not start with the form of a servant, but with 
the glory of the heir. But the former having 
been selected, for the higher spiritual exaltation 
of the human race, Christ's life was bound to be 
a tragedy. 

This is why Our Lord's life may easily be 
studied according to the canons of ordinary human 
biography, and why it is found to be of all bio- 
graphies the greatest. When I use the expression 
'ordinary human biography,' I do not of course 
forget Christ's miraculous powers. 

But taking for granted a miracle-working 
Christ, as you take for granted, say, a preternatur- 
ally far-sighted statesman, I say that, according 
to the canons of human biographies, a Christ 
who persisted in keeping hid within Himself His 
Godhead, out of charity for man, and who had 
to win faith in His Godhead by miracles, could 
easily become the world's greatest tragedy. 

From the moment Christ makes His first public 
appearance up to the sealing of His sepulchre 
by public authorities, ' lest the disciples come and 
steal His body,' there is nothing that need surprise 
us ; in fact, it does not surprise us. If once we 
have mastered the character of the Pharisee, we 
can foresee that there is little chance for Christ. 

This is the reason why men of every school of 


thought are able to make of the Gospels their 
life study. Even the rationalist, who does not 
believe in Christ's Divinity, is found to say true and 
illuminating things concerning the psychological 
sequel of Christ's human career. No one but a 
madman will deny that Christ stood amongst His 
contemporaries with a power and a majesty such 
as no man ever possessed. A little good will would 
be enough to identify Christ's superhuman position 
with Christ's power of miracles. But this super- 
human attitude once accepted, the Gospels are a 
human biography. Christ's claim to be the Son of 
God explains the jealousy of the Pharisee, because 
Christ was to all appearances a man, and because 
He supported His claim with undoubted miracles. 
' I and the Father are one. The Jews then took 
up stones to stone him. Jesus answered them, 
Many good works I have shewed you from my 
Father ; for which of those works do you stone me ? 
The Jews answered him, For a good work we stone 
thee not, but for blasphemy ; and because that 
thou, being a man, makest thyself God.' x 

' The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees 
gathered a council, and said, What do we ? for this 
man doeth many miracles. If we let him alone so, 
all will believe in him ; and the Romans will come 
and take away our place and nation.' 2 

Nothing could express better the whole situation 

1 St. John x, 30-33. * St John xi. 47, 48. 


than those words. The miracle-worker, being a 
man, claims oneness with the Father ; let Him 
suffer the death of the blasphemer. His miracles 
are a danger. 

The Pharisee, the man who sins against the 
Holy Ghost, ought to be our chief character-study 
in connection with the Gospels. If once we have 
fathomed him, we see easily that the Son of Mary 
is doomed to death, unless He depart from that great 
reserve that makes Him hide His Divinity. Judas, 
Pilate, Herod, the mocking soldiery, the scourging, 
the crowning with thorns, the crucifixion, become 
events that explain themselves naturally, through 
the ordinary elementary hatreds and weaknesses of 
human nature. 

There are many passages in the New Testament 
pointing to the co-operation of Satan in bringing 
about Christ's death on the cross. It is a favourite 
theme with writers of all periods to make the drama 
of our Redemption reach the climax when Satan 
knows that he has destroyed his own kingdom, when 
he finds out that the Christ murdered at his 
suggestion was the Son of God, and that the death 
on the cross invented by satanic jealousy was 
God's preordained means of saving mankind. 

We may easily grant such dramatic presentment 
of the Redemption without there being occasioned 
by it the least flaw in the human sequel of events in 
the Christ-biography. Satan's co-operation with 


man's act, far from superseding human activity 
or filling up gaps in the causal series of human 
events, depends entirely on human perverseness 
and wickedness for its own efficacy. The powers 
of darkness cannot work except in darkness, and 
the dark conscience of the Pharisees was more 
than ready to receive the suggestions of the spirit 
of wickedness in high places. Satan's share in the 
Crucifixion, far from rendering the Christ tragedy 
less human, gave it on the contrary an additional 
human cruelty and grimness, as Satan's work is 
always to stir up the deepest and darkest instincts 
of the corrupt human heart. 

What we all ought to bear in mind is the human 
origin and the human sequel of the Christ -tragedy. 
Once it is granted that ' it behoved Him in all 
things to be made like unto His brethren, that He 
might become a merciful and faithful high priest 
before God,' x — once it is granted that the best 
Redemption was the most absolute identification of 
Christ with ordinary human conditions, there was 
enough love and enough hatred in man to bring 
about the Christ -tragedy. How in God's wisdom 
the prescience of it all could become the will of His 
heart does not belong to the created plane of thinking. 
On the one hand there is the clear fact of human sin, 
the greatest of all sjhs, the sin against the Holy 
Ghost, which is the full and direct human cause, and, 

1 Heb. ii, 17. 


to all appearance, the total cause of Christ's death. 
On the other hand there is the fact of revelation 
that it was the Father's will that mankind should be 
saved by death on the cross. 

No finite mind is able to grasp the harmonious 
interlocking of those two great causes : an infinitely 
holy will and an immensely perverted will. Infini- 
tude of power and wisdom is the only explanation. 
' The Father gave up Christ (to death) and He 
Himself gave Himself up out of charity, and there- 
fore They are praised for it. But Judas gave Him 
up out of jealousy, Pilate gave Him up out of 
worldly fear because he feared Caesar, and therefore 
they are blamed." * No happier and shorter propo- 
sition could be framed to state the causalities at 
work in Christ's fate than this simple answer of 
St. Thomas to an objector who could not see how 
1 The Father ' and Judas could both be said to have 
delivered up the Son of God. 

In the same article St. Thomas thus defines the 
Father's role in Christ's Passion. ■ God the Father 
delivered up Christ to suffering in a threefold way : 
Firstly, as far as He in His eternal will preordained 
Christ's passion to be the deliverance of the human 
race. Secondly, as far as He inspired Christ with 
the willingness to suffer for us, pouring Charity 
into Him. . . . Thirdly, not saving Him from 
suffering, but leaving Him at the mercy of His 

» Quest, 47, art. 3. 


persecutors/ Christ's own share in bringing on 
Himself the great storm is thus analysed by St. 
Thomas in the first article of the same question : 
* One is the cause of an event indirectly, because one 
does not prevent it, when one could : just as a man 
is said to pour water on some one else, because he 
does not shut the window through which rain comes 
in. And it is in this wise that Christ Himself was 
the cause of His own suffering and death. For He 
could have prevented His suffering and death, firstly 
checking His enemies, so as to render them incapable 
or unwilling to kill Him. Secondly, because His 
spirit had power to preserve intact the nature of His 
body, lest it should succumb under any lesion, which 
power Christ's soul possessed because it was united 
with the Word of God in oneness of person. There- 
fore as the soul of Christ did not keep from the 
body the hurts inflicted on it, but rather as it willed 
that the bodily nature should succumb under the 
infliction, Christ is said to have given up His life, 
or to have died willingly.' 

But such power, again, Christ could not have 
exerted without our Redemption being less bountiful, 
and if He was to give Himself to man without reserve 
or restriction, He had to be the helpless prey of 
man's darkest passions. The Father would have 
sent Him twelve legions of angels, if He had asked, 
in virtue of His birthright. But how could one with 
twelve legions of angels surrounding Him turn 


round and look at Peter with a look that brought the 
truest and warmest tears to human eyes that were 
ever shed ? ' And Peter, going out, wept bitterly. 
And the men that held Him mocked him, and struck 
him, and they blindfolded him, and smote his 
face/ l It is from the midst of such a gathering 
of lowest humanity that Christ won back the 
faithless disciple to a penitent love that was to be 
stronger than death. 

1 St. Luke xxii. 62-64. 



Christ's mortal career is a most complete and most 
perfect act in itself ; it has a fulness that makes it 
a source of life for all ages to come. 

It is perhaps not too much to say that the 
general tendency of the human mind is a tendency to 
belittle the importance of the individual life — I mean 
the mortal career of individual people. Man soon 
begins to dream of possible new existences for the 
same individual where things might be done and 
duties might be fulfilled which have been omitted 
and neglected during the first mortal life. One need 
only remember the doctrine of the migration of souls, 
the most wide-spread theory on the Hereafter we 
know of ; no doubt, as most human lives look so 
worthless, man's innate wish for better things makes 
such beliefs part of the human optimism. 

Christianity is indeed of all religions the most 
optimistic religion ; but its optimism never degener- 
ates into a vagueness of hope ; its optimism is 
essentially this, that it thinks highly of the possi- 
bilities of the one mortal life of which we are certain 


as being the one chance for every individual. 
Christianity constantly reins in the human imagin- 
ation, only too prone to overlook the blessings of 
the present hour for the fairy tales of uncertain 
existences in the future. 

Christ's mortal life has become to Christ's Church 
the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega, 
the consummation of all sanctity, the source of all 
grace. There is no re-acting of that great life ; 
it has been acted once, and the act was indeed a 
delight to the eyes of God and of the Angels of God. 

Christ Himself insists emphatically on the 
importance of His one life, to do the work of His 
Father. * And Jesus passing by saw a man who was 
blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him : 
Rabbi, who hath sinned, this man, or his parents, 
that he should be born blind ? Jesus answered, 
Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents ; 
but that the works of God should be made manifest 
in him. I must work the works of him that sent 
me, whilst it is day : the night cometh, when no 
man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am 
the light of the world.' * 

• I have glorified thee on the earth : I have 
finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And 
now glorify thou me, Father, with thyself, with 
the glory which I had, before the world was, with 
thee.' 2 

1 St, John ix. 1-5, ■ St. John xvii. 4, 5, 


This same theological idea is one of the leading 
thoughts in that most perfect resume of Christology : 
the Epistle to the Hebrews. ' Then said I, Behold 
I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away 
the first, that he may establish that which followeth. 
In the which will we are sanctified by the oblation 
of the body of Jesus Christ once. And every priest 
indeed standeth daily ministering, and often offer- 
ing the same sacrifices, which can never take away 
sins. But this man, offering one sacrifice for sins, 
for ever sitteth on the right hand of God ; from 
henceforth expecting until his enemies be made his 
footstool. For by one oblation he hath perfected 
for ever them that are sanctified. And the Holy 
Ghost also doth testify this to us ; for after that he 
said, And this is the testament which I will make 
unto them after those days, saith the Lord. I will 
give my laws in their hearts, and on their minds will 
I write them : And their sins and iniquities I will 
remember no more. Now where there is a remission 
of these, there is no more an oblation for sin/ * 

In another chapter I shall show how this one- 
ness of life in Christ is not contradicted but rather 
emphasised by the doctrine of the Christian Euchar- 
ist ; but there is one remark I should like to make 
here. It is the impression of the writer of this 
book that certain pious folks have not been proof 
against that weakness of the human mind mentioned 

1 Heb. x. 9-18. 

M 2 


above, the tendency of multiplying lives, because 
the first life somehow seems to lack fulness and 
sufficiency. Not a small amount of modern euchar- 
istic literature is tainted with this tendency. Good 
men and pious men make of the Eucharistic Presence 
a kind of second existence of Christ, a kind of 
mortal career that goes on for ever and ever, a 
kind of self-abasement on the part of the Son of 
God greater even than His first abasement. 

Now, I should be the very last person to put 
a check on the enthusiasm of Christian feeling 
round the great sacramental marvel. With St. 
Thomas Aquinas I say here : 

Quantum potes, tantum All words of thine but 

aude ; feebly tell 

Quia major omni laude, Thy God's transcend- 
Nec laudare sufficis. ent worth ; 

Yet let thy loud re- 
joicings swell 
And reach the ends 
of earth. 
Missal. Sequence. 

At the same time there is the great fact that 
Christ's mortal career was all fulness, and that 
through His resurrection He entered into glory 
for ever. 

The presence and existence of Christ in the 
Holy Eucharist are not a human presence, a human 
existence, in the sense in which He was present 


or existent in His mortal days. It is not even 
a presence or existence that resembles in any way 
Christ's glorified presence and existence in heaven, 
such as He is now. It is a presence, it is an 
existence which is absolutely new, infinitely different 
from any known mode of presence and existence. 

People who talk of the Eucharistic Presence in 
language that could not apply to anything except 
an ordinary human life could do nothing better 
than study the seventy-sixth question of the third 
part of the Summa, with its eight highly meta- 
physical articles. ' The manner according to 
which Christ is in this Sacrament/ But let me 
quote from the seventh article, whether Christ's 
body, such as it is in this sacrament, could be 
seen by a bodily eye, at least if the bodily eye 
were that of a glorified (risen) body. ' Therefore, 
speaking quite accurately, Christ's body, accord- 
ing to the manner of existence which It has in 
this sacrament, is not discernible either by sense 
or imagination, but by the intellect only, which 
is called the spiritual eye. It is however per- 
ceived differently, according to the differences of 
intellect. For as the mode of existence, according 
to which Christ is in this sacrament, is entirely 
supernatural, it can be seen in its proper state 
by the supernatural intellect— I mean the divine 
intellect ; and as a consequence it can be seen 
by the glorified intellect of either angel or man, 


who through the vision of the divine essence, in 
virtue of that participated clarity of the divine 
intellect in them, see things that are supernatural. 
As for the intellect of man still in his mortal career, 
it cannot see it except by faith, as is the case with 
all things supernatural. But even the angelic 
intellect, left to its natural resources, is unable 
to see Christ's (sacramental) body. Therefore the 
demons cannot see through their intellect Christ 
in this sacrament, except by faith.' 

Church history is full of marvellous events 
centring round the consecrated elements of the 
Eucharist, such as palpable flesh taking the place 
of the consecrated Host, or warm blood issuing 
forth from the sacramental Element, or even 
the Eucharistic Bread taking the form of the 
Divine Infant, for the consolation of the faith- 
ful or the conviction of the doubter. St. Thomas 
treats of the objective value of such miraculous 
phenomena in the eighth article of the same ques- 
tion lxxvi. His explanations are satisfying ; the 
phenomenon is either a subjective impression 
in the beholder, or an objective preternatural 
and permanent effect round about the conse- 
crated species. But the real substance of Christ's 
body does not come into the phenomenon ; it re- 
mains hid in its inaccessible mysteriousness. ' Such 
transformed sacramental elements,' he says, ' have 
sometimes been shut up and reserved, at the sugges- 


tion of a body of bishops, in a pyx. Quod nefas 
esset de Christo sentire secundum propriam speciem. 
It would be wickedness to hold such opinion of 
Christ in His proper nature.' 

This energetic condemnation on the part of 
Aquinas of the idea of Christ being shut up, a 
prisoner as it were, in material surroundings, though 
it be under a eucharistic transformation, shows 
well how repugnant to Catholic theology are ways 
of stating the Eucharist Presence in other terms 
than those of the sacramental Transubstantiation. 

There are two distinct points of doctrine with 
regard to the great Christian Eucharist. The first 
point is the Real Presence : Christ is really present. 
This is the point over which Christians are divided, 
some being satisfied with a mystical, spiritual 
presence of Christ's body, whilst others, taking the 
Gospel literally, hold that besides the mystical 
spiritual presence, Christ's bodily reality is there, 
and that the spiritual, the mystical reality is 
an effect, an outflow of the bodily reality thus 
present. This first point contains nothing as to 
the manner of that bodily presence. 

The second point is an exclusively Catholic 
point ; it has long been part of the Catholic theology 
on the blessed Eucharist, and the Council of Trent 
raised it to a Catholic dogma. It is the dogma of 
Transubstantiation, the dogma, I might say, of the 
mode of Christ's presence. Christ is there, in the 


consecrated element, because the consecrated element 
has been changed, transubstantiated into Christ's 
body, by God's omnipotence, not by a kind of 
' impanation,' of taking up His abode in the bread, 
as Lutheran theology would have it. It is easy to 
see how the Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation 
removes the mode of Christ's Eucharistic Presence 
into the region of the mysterious and miraculous 
beyond any other theory. A Catholic ought to be 
the very last man to apply to Christ's Eucharistic 
Presence modes of speech that souad ludicrous when 
not applied to the normal, natural human life, with 
its lights and its shadows, its trials and its virtues. 

I have risked wearying the reader with the 
refutation of possible aberrations of Catholic piety, 
because I feel how important it is for our spiritual 
life to go back constantly to Christ's mortal life, to 
find these not only every virtue and every example, 
but also finality of virtue and of example. 

' Who in the days of his flesh, with a strong cry 
and tears, offering up prayers and supplications to 
him that was able to save him from death, was 
heard for his reverence. And whereas he indeed was 
the Son of God, he learned obedience by the things 
which he suffered ; and being consummated he 
became, to all that obey him, the cause of eternal 
salvation.' x 

In another chapter I shall show the relation- 
1 Heb. v. 7, 8, 9. 


ship between the Eucharist and Christ's life and 
death. But whatever that relationship, Christ, 
like all other viator es, pilgrims on earth, has only 
one earthly life, one human life, one life of prayer, 
and struggle, and merit, and edification, for His 
brethren : the life of thirty-three years in Palestine. 
Everything in the spiritual order, not excepting 
the Eucharist itself, comes from that great life, 
and goes back to it. Christ's Eucharistic Presence 
cannot be called a human life ; it cannot be said 
to show forth human virtues ; it cannot be regarded 
as containing ethical perfections that might be a 
pattern to the Christian, or ethical perfections in 
any way superior to the ethical perfections of His 
mortal career. It is a presence so eminently 
miraculous, so absolutely beyond the laws of 
humanity, that God alone is able to watch the 
pulsation of that hidden life. 

In order to remain faithful to my programme of 
describing the Christ of theology, I have to confine 
myself to one aspect of the great life, the theological 
aspect. We are happily in possession of excellent 
works, endless in their variety, on the historical 
and spiritual aspects of the great life. Now the 
aspect of the great life, which, to my mind, con- 
stitutes something deeply interesting for the religious 
thinker, is the circumstance that Christ led an 
ordinary social life, with the duties appropriate to 
refined and civilised humanity. 


He differs from the Baptist ; He is not a solitary, 
an ascetic, a priest of the Levitical tribe ; He is 
the son of David, of the tribe of Juda, of royal 
descent. ' For he of whom these things are spoken 
is of another tribe, of which no one attended the 
altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out 
of Juda ; in which tribe Moses spoke nothing con- 
cerning priests/ 1 

This ordinariness of Christ's life is a fact of such 
significance that I do not hesitate to call it its 
theological aspect, because it is an immense 
acquisition to the history of human sanctity and 
human spiritualness that the Son of God on earth 
should have led a life not different in its external 
arrangements from the ordinary social life of the 
men of His time and His social standing. ' Is not 
this the carpenter, the Son of Mary ? ' 2 This exclam- 
ation on the lips of Christ's nearest acquaintances 
shows well how completely human He had made 
Himself, and how unprepared the Jewish mind 
was to receive its heaven from the hands of an 
artisan whom they had met daily for years past. 

Nothing could be more suggestive, from the 
point of view of the history of religion, than the 
differences between the career of the Baptist and 
the career of Christ. The Baptist was essentially 
and deeply a Jewish saint from beginning to end. 
Christ was not the kind of saint the Jew admired 

1 Heb. vii, 13, 14, 2 St. Mark vi. 3. 


or could understand. John the Baptist was never 
contradicted, he was never doubted by the people, 
his mode of life was such as to make every word that 
fell from his lips a rule of faith. The Pharisee 
might indeed say of John, ' He hath a devil/ * 
But then John had never spared them. ' Ye brood 
of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the 
wrath to come ? ' a Such had been the Baptist's 
apostrophe to them. As for the people themselves, 
their faith in John was implicit. ' And it came to 
pass, that on one of the days, as he was teaching 
the people in the temple, and preaching the gospel, 
the chief priests and the scribes, with the ancients, 
met together and spoke to him, saying : Tell us by 
what authority dost thou these things ? Who is 
he that hath given thee this authority ? And Jesus 
answering said to them, I will also ask you one thing. 
Answer me : The baptism of John, was it from 
heaven, or of men ? But they thought within them- 
selves, saying : If we shall say, From heaven, he 
will say ; Why then did you not believe him ? But 
if we say, Of men ; the whole people will stone us : 
for they are persuaded that John was a prophet. And 
they answered that they knew not whence it was. 
And Jesus said to them, Neither do I tell you by what 
authority I do these things/ 3 

That one of so perfect a life should give testimony 
to one whose mode of conversing in the world was 

1 St. Matt. xi. 18. * St. Matt. iii. 7. 3 St. Luke xx, 1-8. 


like any other man's conversing was indeed a great 
puzzle to Christ's contemporaries. Christ was at 
an enormous disadvantage with the Jewish mind, 
owing to this ordinariness of life. His miracles, 
his wonderful teaching, were no compensation to the 
Jewish temperament for that absence of ascetical 
austerity. It was rather a scandal unto them 
that one with an ordinary kind of life should do 
wonders and speak such wisdom. Had he been 
amongst them, ' not eating and drinking/ the 
miracles would have been hailed with enthusiasm. 
' And going out from thence, he went into his own 
country ; and his disciples followed him. And 
when the sabbath was come, he began to teach in 
the synagogue : and many hearing him were in 
admiration of his doctrine, saying, How came this 
man by all these things ? And what wisdom is 
this that is given to him, and such mighty works 
as are wrought by his hands ? Is not this the 
carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, 
and Joseph, and Jude, and Simon ? Are not also 
his sisters here with us ? And they were scandalised 
in regard of him.' * ' And they come to a house, 
and the multitude cometh together again, so that 
they could not so much as eat bread. And when 
his friends had heard of it, they went out to lay 
hold on him ; for they said, He is become mad.' 2 
That spiritual greatness was possible within the 
1 St. Mark vi. 1-3. a St. Mark iii. 19, 20, 21, 


ordinary conditions of human society was a truth 
not yet realised. That a man could sit down to 
dinner with his host and read at the same time 
the secrets of the heart of those that approached 
him was a lesson still to be learned by men. Jesus 
had multiplied signs and wonders, but He failed 
to win the confidence of the Jews. John had done 
no sign, and yet his word was of immense weight. 
1 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 
But if I do, though you will not believe me, believe 
the works : that you may know, and believe, that 
the Father is in me, and I in the Father. They 
sought therefore to take him : and he escaped out 
of their hands. And he went again beyond the 
Jordan, into that place where John was baptising 
first ; and there he abode. And many resorted to 
him, and they said, John indeed did no sign. 
But all things, whatsoever John said of this man 
were true. And many believed in him.' x 

St. Thomas treats of the characteristics of 
Christ's life in the fortieth question of the third 
part of the Summa. De modo conversation's Christi 
is the title of the treatise. I quote from the 
commentary of Cajetan on the second article, as 
embodying in a few words the essence of Christian 
theology as to Christ's practical life amongst men. 
1 Take notice and fix in your mind this doctrine, 
viz. that Christ was an example of perfection in all 

1 St. John x. 37-42. 


things that belong necessarily to salvation. From 
this you conclude that in those things which have 
no necessary relation to salvation, things that have 
no intrinsic goodness, but are good merely as means 
to an end, such as obedience, poverty, and other 
such practices, We ought not to ask from Christ 
more austere things, as if they were more perfect. 
But what we ought to find in Christ are the things 
that belong to the final purpose of the Incarnation ; 
whether such things be austere practices or not, 
matters little.' 

The great life is indeed an infinitely wise life, 
because all its phases and all its duties are deter- 
mined by this one consideration. It was a wisdom 
of life the Jew could not understand ; for him a 
garment of camel's hair was the spiritual marvel. 
It is only the children of wisdom that can see the 
beauty of that other life. ' The Son of man is come 
eating and drinking ; and you say, Behold a man 
that is a glutton and a drinker of wine, a friend of 
publicans and sinners I And wisdom is justified 
by all her children.' I 

I may once more quote Cajetan, summing up 
the doctrine of his great master, St. Thomas. The 
terseness of the theologian is very helpful, as it is 
so important for us all to take a true and sober view 
of Christ's glorious life, the divinely authentic 
pattern of human perfection. ' Christ adopted quite 

1 St. Luke vii. 34, 35. 


appropriately social life as His mode of conversing 
on earth, not solitary life. Such is the thesis of 
St. Thomas. Now this is thus proven. Christ 
was bound to adopt such a mode of life as would 
best suit the purpose of the Incarnation. The 
purpose of the Incarnation is best served by social 
life. Therefore Christ was bound to choose social 
life as His life. The purpose of the Incarnation 
is threefold : first, to give testimony of the truth ; 
second, to save sinners ; third, to bring men to 
God. Now, all this means social life.' * 

1 Commentary on first article of the fortieth question. 



Personality, in the sense of its being a great 
entitative reality, is, as I have said so often, at 
the root of all the metaphysical momentum of 
Hypostatic Union. 

Personality, in the sense of its being a living, 
overpowering influence, is at the root of all our 
sanctification and exaltation in Christ. The two 
views are not separable in practice, as Christ is a 
Divine Person through that wondrous replacement 
of personality so much spoken of in this book, for 
our sakes, in order that we should gain highest 
human perfection in Him. 

Personality, in so far as it signifies a rational 
being with distinct rights and claims, with a 
distinct ethical estate as its inalienable property, 
is at the root of that part of Christology called 
Christ's Priesthood. This third view of personality 
is not separable from the two preceding views, in 
practice. But it is the predominating view when 
we come to approach Christ's atonement — Christ's 
sacerdotal role. 


Theologians have written whole folio-volumes 
on this single question : ' The Priesthood of Christ.' 
It seems no easy task to compress so great a thesis 
into one single chapter. However, I have the 
example of St. Thomas Aquinas, who finds that 
one quaestio (the twenty-sixth), with six articles, is 
sufficient even for the theologian. Besides, there is 
the inspired treatise on Christ's Priesthood, the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, a strictly theological thesis 
with Rabbinic argumentation pressed effectively 
into service. 

The question might be asked whether Christ's 
priestly office is anything different from His other 
offices ; for instance, from His office as the mystical 
Head of the Church. My answer is that the distinc- 
tion is not clearly drawn anywhere, either in the 
Apostolic writings or even in the theology of St. 
Thomas. Atonement, mediation, sanctiflcation, 
teaching, consoling, are all functions that may be 
attributed to priesthood. The definition of a 
priest, given in the Epistle to the Hebrews, covers 
all such beneficent interventions on the part of the 
God-man. ' For every high priest taken from 
among men is ordained for men in the things that 
appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and 
sacrifices for sins : who can have compassion on 
them that are ignorant and that err ; because he 
himself also is compassed with infirmity.' ■ Christ 
1 Heb. v, 1, 2. 


is an entirely supernatural personage ; Him ' the 
Father hath sanctified and sent into the world/ 1 
He is the great Anointed of God ; His whole 
bearing, His whole presence is that of a high 
priest ; He is a priest always and everywhere. 

There is, however, the essential, the untransferable 
act of priesthood, that of offering a sacrifice ; and it 
is with that function of Christ I am concerned now, 
as in it we find the greatest assertion of the mystery 
of His Personality, what I might be pardoned for 
calling the juridical assertion. 

By the replacement of human personality in 
Christ through Divine Personality, He is a Divine 
Person with a power for created life and created 
virtue, which life and virtue have infinite ethical 
value, as they are attributable to a Divine Person, 
and as a Divine Person is responsible for them. 
Christ is a Divine Person, with a distinct Personality 
from that of the Father. 

Christ exerted highest virtue, highest love, in 
the death on the cross, and He gave glory to God 
through His obedience, coupled with equality of 
personal rights with the Father. 

Theologians have gone deep into the juridical 
question of the Atonement ; their labours, though 
very arduous, make one point quite clear : Christian 
atonement differs, toto coelo, from the instinct of 
atonement which is practically the common inherit - 
1 St. John x. 36. 


ance of mankind. It is not the physical death, the 
physical blood, that is the primary thing in the 
Christian atonement ; it is the great personal factor 
of God treating with God. According to Christian 
theology, far from there being ' a wantonness of 
blood/ there is in the sacrifice of Christ a divine 
nicety as to the measure of the immolation. 

The Atonement is a moral claim, according to 
theologians, meaning by the word moral ' juridical.' 
No Christian can exclude from his theology such 
thoughts on the Redemption as are based on the 
juridical claims of a Divine Person. 

The difference of the Christian atonement from 
the human atonements — the Jewish not excluded — 
is beautifully put forward in the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, where the personal value as opposed to the 
merely physical value is so strongly emphasised. 

' For it is impossible that with the blood of oxen 
and goats sin should be taken away. Wherefore 
when he cometh into the world, he saith : Sacrifice 
and oblation thou wouldest not, but a body thou 
hast fitted to me : holocausts for sin did not please 
thee. Then said I, Behold, I come : in the head of 
the book it is written of me that I should do thy will, 
O God. In saying before, Sacrifices and oblations 
and holocausts for sin thou wouldest not, neither 
are they pleasing to thee, which are offered according 
to the law. Then said I : Behold, I come to do thy 
will, God. He taketh away the first, that he may 

N 2 


establish that which followeth. In the which will 
we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of 
Jesus Christ once.' * 

There is a further consideration indispensable 
in this matter of Christ's Atonement : it is the 
additional sanctity acquired by Christ through 
the obedience of the cross. His original sanctity 
that manifested itself in His wonderful life was 
not to be the price of our Redemption. There 
had been no juridical transaction between Divine 
Persons as to its moral purchasing power. The 
Passion, on the contrary, was made the price of 
our souls. The following passage of St. Thomas 
is very illuminating. ' The original sanctity of 
Christ's humanity does not prevent that same 
human nature when it is offered up to God in the 
Passion from being sanctified in a new way — that 
is to say, as a victim actually offered up. It then 
acquired from its original charity and from that 
grace of (Hypostatic) Union that sanctifies it, 
absolutely speaking, the actual sanctification of 
victim/ 2 

1 Heb. x, 4-10 ■ Question 22, art. 2, ad, 3 urn, 



The incomprehensible refinement of a Divine 
Personality is not only the most enduring motive 
for Christian compunction over the crucified 
Saviour, it is also the explanation of the greatest 
of Christ's sufferings. None of us can fail to be 
deeply affected by the story of the Passion, if 
our minds are busy habitually with the infinitely 
sweet excellencies of the Son of God made man. 
Compassion for Christ crucified will remain an 
actual living thing in human souls as long as the 
world lasts, chiefly because the Sufferer was an 
infinitely excellent person. Compassion enduring 
to the end of time is not a fruitless or groundless 
wail, in such a case. 

But, as I said, Christ's personal perfections 
of being were also the measure of His sufferings, 
both in soul and mind. 

It is a general Christian conviction that Christ 
in Himself suffered more than any other human 


creature on earth. St. Thomas adopts this view 
in his question forty-six. 1 

I must confess to a certain anger with inferior 
spiritual literature that seems to enjoy a horror 
like a feast, and which has a mania for an 
accumulation of horrors, if once let loose. Such 
men, for instance, would speak of ten thousand 
years of purgatory with as much ease as of one 
year. Once satisfied that they may use the 
figures, they make it centuries or seconds with 
the same generosity. It is a type of a raw 
religious mind, good in itself, but hopelessly callous 
to the rights of reason. 

So in this matter of Christ's sufferings, one has 
read books written by devout men in which the 
accumulation of pain in Christ's life has been done 
with a kind of mad recklessness, with utter dis- 
regard of the Gospel narrative and of theological 
principles. In fact, such accumulation, bad as 
the taste is, defeats its own end : it takes Christ's 
Passion out of the human sphere, and makes it 
profitless to us as an example and as a consolation. 

The thesis of St. Thomas, however, that Christ 
suffered more than any other single man ever 
did, is common Christian sentiment, and it is 
wonderfully helpful in the struggle of life. 

' From all these causes,' says St. Thomas at 
the end of the article I have quoted, ' it is clear 

1 Quest. 46, art. 6« 


that the pain of Christ was the greatest of all 

It would be difficult to assign any single cause 
that gives to Christ's sufferings such proportions : 
there are many causes at work, coming from the 
complexity of His wonderful Personality. 

His physical torments would go a long way 
to make of Him one of the most ill-treated human 
beings, chiefly if they are taken in connection 
with the ingratitudes and the treasons that brought 
them about. But when all has been said, in order 
to give the explanation how Christ's suffering was 
simply and absolutely ' the greatest/ we have 
to fall back on the perfection of His hypostatic- 
ally united nature. Christ's body was a miracle 
of perfection and delicacy. His soul was the 
finest instrument of feeling that ever was. On 
a body of such complexion, tortures like those 
described so soberly in the Gospel narratives would 
assume unwonted proportions, which sufferings 
no special heavenly consolations seem to have 
sweetened, when the pain was actually on Him. 
In His mind, He voluntarily admitted sorrow 
for sin, for failure in the spiritual world, and His 
keen soul became its own tormentor. In this 
matter of Christ's spiritual sufferings over the 
sins of the world there seems to be no knowable 
limits. How much did He allow Himself to be 
invaded by that keen internal sorrow ? ■ Christ,' 


says St. Thomas, ' in order to satisfy for the sins 
of all men, took on Himself sadness, a sadness 
that was the greatest human sadness, as an absolute 
measure, but a sadness that did not go beyond the 
rule of sound reason/ x 

St. Thomas makes another golden remark in 
connection with Christ's death. ' The bodily Life 
of Christ was of such excellency, and this chiefly 
on account of Divinity united (hypostatically), 
that loss even for an hour would be a matter of 
much greater sorrow than the loss of the life of 
any other man for any length of time.' 2 

The Passion of Christ ought to be a subject of 
tender thought, even for the most exact and most 
unemotional mind. There is not in it physical pain 
merely for the sake of a raw contempt of physical 
well-being. We know that it is voluntary in the 
sense of its not having been the only possible device 
God had to redeem the world, yet that there is in 
it a divine adaptation of most excellent means to 
a most excellent end is made manifest by the very 
choice God made of it to be the cause of our 

1 Ad 2 urn, * Ad 4 um. 



It would be a most ungracious and unnatural 
theology to speak of Christ's sorrows without even 
mentioning Christ's joys. The contemplation of 
Christ as the man of sorrow, if it were too ex- 
clusive, would become a positive heresy, as such 
exclusiveness would mean that Christ was the great 
sufferer by a kind of wild fatality, that He was the 
personification of the Weltschmerz, of the world's 
unspoken agony. 

With all our faith in Christ's vicarious atone- 
ment ; with all the literalness of inspired language, 
such as St. Paul's expression, 1 ' Him that knew no 
sin, for us he hath made sin ' ; with all the 
bitterness of Christ's death, — the theological fact 
remains, that the element of joy in Christ's 
human life was immensely preponderant. 

We must bear in mind that there was never in 
Christ any struggling after happiness, or even after 
higher happiness, out of unhappiness. He con- 

1 2 Cor, v, 21, 


descended to put aside, partially, happiness for a 
time ; but there is never in Him the grim stretching 
forward to life and light that characterises the 
earthly hero. His mortality and passibility were 
temporary arrangements of a miraculous nature, 
and though the cessation of such an arrangement 
was to be in a sense Christ's human reward, it 
differed profoundly from our release from this body 
of sin, inasmuch as we are released from a fatal 
and universal law, whilst Christ's glorification was 
the cessation of the miraculous suspension of 
glorification. When Christ entered into that 
personal glory that was His birthright, He entered 
into it in a spirit of triumph, with * greater honour/ 
as St. Thomas says in article six of the forty-ninth 
question. But being the heir, not a stranger, it was 
merely ' a home-coming ' when He received the 
totality of His happiness. 

The Christ of the Gospels is as much the source 
of life and joy to the millions of human souls that 
worship Him as is the Christ of Heaven. He 
could be no such support if His mortal existence 
had been unalloyed agony. 

The doctrine of St. Thomas as to the fulness and 
the perseverance of Christ's bliss is most constant 
and most unequivocal. Christ had beatific vision 
from the first moment of His conception in Mary's 
womb. His beatific vision was immensely greater 
than the visions of all other created spirits put 


together. His soul had the exceptional favour 
of being created in beatific vision, a state of 
blessedness not conferred on any other created 

I quote the third objection of the fourth article 
of the thirty-fourth question with its answer ; it gives 
us in a few words the key to the mystery of Christ's 
exceptional position in the scale of happiness. 
The objection is as follows : ' What belongs neither 
to man, nor to the angel, seems to be the attribute 
of God Himself ; and therefore it cannot belong 
to Christ, as far as He is man. But always to be 
happy (through beatific vision) belongs neither 
to man nor to the angel ; for if they had been 
created happy (through beatific vision) they would 
not have sinned afterwards. Therefore Christ as 
man was not happy (through beatific vision) from 
the first moment of His conception.' 

The answer is short : ' I answer the third 
objection and say that Christ from the fact of His 
being God and man had even in His manhood 
something more excellent than other creatures — 
namely, that He should be happy (through beatific 
vision) from the very beginning/ 

Far from making ' happiness ' for Himself the 
goal of a vehement struggle with the powers of 
sadness, the Christ of our theology holds an un- 
precedented position of bliss by His very birthright. 

What beatific vision means as a source of 


happiness is, of course, incomprehensible. Now, 
though it be part of the theology of St. Thomas 
that Christ put limits to certain of the secondary 
effects of that overpowering bliss, it would imply 
contradiction to say that He did not enjoy to the 
full the blessed vision itself. He was absolutely 
beatus in that portion of His mind where there 
was the vision. Again it would be contradictory 
to say that Christ's vision was ever interrupted. 
One might as well think of an interruption of 
Hypostatic Union itself. Such interruption, far 
from being helpful towards man's redemption, 
would have lessened its power, as it would have 
lessened Christ's natural dignity and sanctity. 
Another consideration that finds its place here is 
this : Beatific vision can never be anything but 
a source of happiness. All things seen in God 
are seen in their divine relationship, and as such 
they are good, and very good. Even the sight of 
a sinful world, as it can be seen in God's omniscience, 
could never be a sad spectacle — or, anyhow, a sad- 
dening spectacle — because the blessed vision shows 
that if a divine ordinance be transgressed by a 
creature in one way, another ordinance redresses 
the transgression. Christ could never be saddened 
from what He saw in the glory of the Father. 
But He had inferior orders of knowledge, and 
according to these His soul was made sad. 

Many other joys there were in Christ's human 


life besides that sun of brightness high up in His 
mind, the vision of God. How could a life of 
consummate virtuousness and sanctity be anything 
but a long spiritual feast ? 

But the greatest of merely human joys was, no 
doubt, His own immaculate Mother, in whose 
company almost the whole of His mortal life was 
spent. It is certainly a great light in itself, in 
matters of Christ's Personality, to reflect that He 
who came to save sinners spent His life, a few 
years excepted, with one who was pre-eminently 
not a sinner. It all points to the same great theo- 
logical fact, that with Christ the law of happiness 
is the dominant, the prevailing law, the law that 
is followed up as far as possible. The law of 
suffering is submitted to as an exception, and with 
a wise adaptation of means to an end, whilst the 
law of happiness is applied with divine generosity. 



The duality of natures in Christ, being so much 
made of by our theology, has many interesting con- 
sequences. There is in Christ duality of saintship, 
duality of spiritualness ; there is in Him a created 
and an increated sanctity ; and, more than all that, 
there is in Him the saintship which is His own 
personal acquisition. Though He be the Son of 
God, sharing with God the privilege of matchless 
sanctity, He created Himself a sanctity of His own. 
He acquired sanctity, just as the son of an ancient 
family of inexhaustible patrimony might build up 
to himself a great fortune by personal initiative 
and activity, though he be the heir and lord of an 
ancient domain. ' And whereas indeed He was the 
Son of God, He learned obedience by the things 
which he suffered ; and being consummated, He 
became to all that obey Him the cause of eternal 
salvation/ x 

Christ practised human saintship in a heroic 
degree. He was full of sanctity, He was infinitely 

i Heb. v, 8, 9. 


remote from sin through the very elements of His 
wonderful Personality ; yet human sanctity had 
for Him all the terrors high sanctity always brings 
with itself. Infinitely holy from the beginning, He 
had to be holy in a human way by mixing with 
ordinary humanity, and His native infinitude of 
purity made the struggle all the more tragical 
because opposition and sin, as well as physical suffer- 
ing, became to Him more unbearable by reason of His 
own wonderful perfection of origin. It was divine 
sanctity endowed with the power of human senti- 
ment, or, if we like, it was human sentiment made 
more keen through the presence of the infinite 

There is nothing so tragical, nothing so remote 
from unreality and shallowness as the life of a man 
of superior intelligence and high resolve bent on 
doing some great work for the men that surround 
him, and with the concurrence of those that are to 
be ultimately benefited, but being misunderstood, 
misjudged, distrusted all the time by those very 
men. Of all the tragedies it is the most bitter. 

Such was Christ's saint ship ; in Him we find 
that bitter tragedy on an almost infinite scale. His 
native sanctity is like a fire devouring His soul ; 
it is His zeal for the sanctification of man. ' And 
for them do I sanctify myself, that they also may be 
sanctified in truth.' * 

1 St. John xvii. 19, 


ifsislance, human blindness, nay, even 
human sin against the Holy Ghost, are to Him 
the occasion of acquiring personal sanctity. 
Cathohc theology therefore understood Christ 
b e t let when it endowed Him from the very origin 
with every species of spiritual gift, because the 
hnman patience of Christ is so great, precisely 
because with so much native dignity of spirit 
descended into the difficulties of human 

is in Oar Lord's life an element of interest 

is m^fJt w *^a T"y aWypn t z it is the internal struinzie 

good and evil, the sifting of motives, the 

of selfish 
In other words, the 
:: zzzlz ~.zzzz.zz~/ Sris-r :: ~z.± :~:zz i' tz.'.izz.y 
excluded from Oar Lord's character. There might be 
the danger, therefore, that His life should appeal to 
us less as a living fact than as an abstract ideaL Yet 
Christ's life ought to be our constant sobre, precisely 
it was so intensely hnman and so intensely 
m us nnman vniues. 
We cannot of coutsetM nkfor one m o ment of moral 
n finer lion with Our Lord's Personality, 
felt any dissensions in his mind or body. 
But there is in Our Lord's nature an element that 
made of Hb life the greatest struggle, the greatest 
tragedy. It was that contradiction b e tw ee n His 
personal sanctity and Iris external sur r oun dings- 


He was indeed the Son of God come down from 
heaven* to live amongst short-sighted, prejudiced, 
ignorant, and sinful men ; and lie came to share, so 
to speak, their social position. There was the great 
struggle between this incomparable superiority 
and human ifripr w wi 1 y T For, the moment He ^tit e r s 
into the world, He identifies Himself with the men 
that s urr oun d Him. 

He is not as one living amongst men and yet 
picking his steps carefully, raising his garment lest 
it be soiled, and saying to all that are near, ' Do not 
touch me, because I am dean.' No ; He walks 
bravely with the sinner and the traitor, with the 
coward and the fanatic, for they are truly His 
friends. Their friendship and their good will have 
become in di spensable to Him, if His work is to 
have roots in the human race. This intimate 
contact between Him and the living man was a 
necessary element in the Redemption. How could 
man be sanctified unless his heart had been won by 
God? Our Lord had to enter into the hves of His 
followers; He had to admit them into the hidden- 
ness of His own life. It is in this contact betw e en 
highest sanctity and human commonness that we 
are to find that element of conflict which lends to 
His life its human inte r est. 

It is no doubt a spectacle for angels to see a 
being of clay, such as man is, rise gradually to the 
spiritual plane, through a series of disappointments 


in the things he had set his heart upon. But what 
shall we say of consummate sanctity and highest 
spiritualness giving itself to man as a friend, to be 
treated by him as a friend, in his own gross way of 
understanding and treating sanctity and spiritual- 
ness ? For we shall see how the Son of God treats 
with man on the footing of equality ; how He never 
uses His omnipotence to precipitate a conclusion, 
to overpower a mind with the impression of His 
own excellency. He is determined to let Himself 
be found by man, as no doubt any other way of 
convincing man would not be so deep, not so 

The great truths of sacred theology concerning 
the God Incarnate are considered sometimes to be 
mere abstractions, incapable of giving life and 
colour to our Lord's Personality. Nothing could 
be less true. They all enter into the very life of 
Our Lord ; they make that life one of palpitating 
interest, precisely because they give us the key to 
that incomparable superiority of Our Lord's nature, 
which superiority is of all things the one element 
we must constantly bear in mind if we are to 
understand Our Lord's life. 

It is strange how an act or a word coming from 
a human being of some excellency sanctifies for 
ever the spot where the act was performed or the 
word was pronounced. We travel a thousand miles, 
and the country we go through is nothing to us. 


We come to the spot where a human mind, a human 
heart have been at their best, were it only for a 
moment, and there we get easily lost in thought, so 
great is the impression. 

Our Lord's excellency was such as to give to the 
very stones over which His shadow fell the power 
of melting the heart of the pure and simple. 

o 2 



It is the law of all real greatness not to be under- 
stood. The great are great because they are above 
their surroundings, because they see farther or even 
differently. In every greatness there is a practical 
disregard of established ways and axioms. In our 
Lord's life there is this trait of greatness. 

He is misunderstood, and His own did not 
understand Him. There are few things that are 
more pathetic than the conversation which St. 
Peter had with his Master shortly after Simon Peter 
had been promised the keys of the Kingdom of 
Heaven. ' It is then/ says the Evangelist, ' that 
Christ began to speak to them of what was going 
to happen ; that He was going up to Jerusalem, there 
to be reviled by the high priests and the scribes, 
and to be put to death, and to rise on the third day. 
Then Simon Peter took Him aside and rebuked Him, 
saying, " Far be such things from thee." ' 

We can easily imagine St. Peter, strong in the 
conviction that he had his Master's confidence, and 


that therefore he could do what no one else could 
do, administer to him a gentle rebuke ; he walks 
away with Him, and no doubt after a very polite 
introduction comes to the matter that weighs on 
his mind. He has a right to look after his Master's 
interests, and certainly he understands them as well 
as the Master Himself. The Master listens silently, 
and when Simon Peter has finished delivering 
himself of his carefully prepared rebuke, Christ 
turns round and looks on poor Peter with unusual 
sternness. The two had been walking side by side 
whilst Peter was unfolding his views. ' Take thy- 
self behind me, thou Satan ; for thou art a scandal 
unto me : thou savourest the things of man, not 
the things of God.' Peter was far from under- 
standing his Master; with all his good will and 
his good intentions, and with all his loyalty to his 
Master, his mind was still moving on the plane of 
man. Our Lord's admonitions that follow directly 
after look very much like an answer to the remarks 
Peter must have made in his effort to dissuade the 
Master. ' If one wants to walk after me, let him 
take up his cross and follow me/ 'He that loseth 
his soul shall find it ; and what does it profit a man 
if he gain the whole universe and suffer the loss of 
his soul ? ' ■ For what shall man give for his soul ? 
For the Son of man will come in the glory of his 
Father with the angels, and then he shall give to 
everyone according to his deserts. Amen, I say 


unto you, There are some standing here who will 
not die without having seen the Son of man in his 

This last allusion to the Transfiguration, which 
was to take place a few days after, and in which 
Peter was to hold such a conspicuous place, seemed 
to be a kind of revulsion in our Lord's feeling 
towards Peter, after the sharp rebuke. It would 
seem as if our Lord's chief internal suffering had 
been his being misunderstood by the men that 
loved Him and whom He loved. 

Besides the righteous indignation expressed in the 
rebuke to St. Peter, there are other passages in the 
Gospels where Christ expresses grief, if not anger, 
at being so sadly misunderstood. f Incredulous 
and perverse generation, how long shall I be with 
you, how long shall I bear you ? ' The very men 
who come to Him with their sick to be healed doubt 
His power and His Mission. It might be said that 
the tragedy of the Gospels lies in that constant 
misunderstanding. There is a kind of ill will in 
Our Lord's surroundings which our Lord compares 
in one passage with the naughtiness and the sulkiness 
of children playing in the market-place. ' We 
played to you, and you would not sing ; we piped 
to you, and you would not dance/ 

Certain schools of religion in our own days take 
a pleasure in explaining Christ's unpopularity from 
political or social motives. Christ raised His voice 


against the rich and the powerful in favour of 
the poor, it is said. His unpopularity was like 
the unpopularity of a demagogue with the ruling 

Such a view is strangely superficial. Our Lord 
was misunderstood by His own friends more than by 
anyone else. He rebuked the poor as sternly as He 
rebuked the rich. Many did not walk with Him 
any more, saying, ' This is a hard speech ; who can 
bear it ? ' The hard speech was anything but a 
revolutionary speech : it was the announcement 
of the Holy Eucharist. 

There was, in fact, not a single individual, with 
the exception of His mother, who had come into 
contact with Christ, who at one time or another 
was not a prey to doubts as to His real mission and 
character. His crucifixion was a scandal even to 
the most persevering friend. ' You all shall suffer 
scandal in me to-night.' Christ's life's effort seems 
to have been to gain the confidence of a few. Now, 
why is it that our Lord had such difficulty in gaining 
a following entirely devoted to Him, when it is the 
achievement of every agitator to gather round him 
in a few days crowds of men who believe in him 
blindly, and swear by him, ready to die for him 
or with him. There is not a trace of such over- 
powering ascendancy over man in our Lord's life. 
Doubt, suspicion, diffidence, are seen on every side. 
Peter alone boasts that he is ready to follow Him 


to prison and to death, and the Master meets His 
boast with a sad smile. * I come in my Father's 
name, and you do not believe me. Somebody else 
will come in his own name, and you will believe 

Leaders of all sorts with human causes or human 
interests, coming in their own names, have done 
indeed what Christ could not do : they have had 
desperate followers. If the Gospels were the 
imagination of naive men they would have repre- 
sented their hero as a man of irresistible power 
over his followers ; his manifold miracles would 
have been given as the explanation of a devotedness 
unto death on the part of the followers. Instead, 
we have miracles on the one hand, and unsur- 
mountable diffidences on the other hand. 

The explanation is this : Christ had no human 
cause to defend ; he was no partisan ; He came, 
as He says, in the name of His Father, with the 
fulness of truth, not with a political or social idea. 
He came with all ideas, and it would seem that the 
human mind has difficulties in trusting another 
mind that is not one-sided, but is complete and 
absolutely wise, taking in every view and every 
side of things. Man follows easily isolated 
impressions and ideas, as an animal follows 
irresistible instincts ; but it is only highest culture 
that makes man love faithfully the fulness of truth, 
the truth of God in its multitudinousness of form 


and presentment. John the Baptist had no 
difficulty in getting a faithful following, in spite 
of his austerities ; his disciples compare favourably 
with Christ's disciples in their loyalty to the leader. 
It was because John had a definite, an exclusive 
mode of life, whilst Christ required from His disciple 
every perfection of mind and heart. 

Man's loyalty is always partisanship ; faith in 
Christ, on the contrary, is intellectual culture and 
charity of the heart. To arrive at a perfect faith 
in Christ, man has to give up what it is most difficult 
to part with, his partisan attachments. The Jews 
by whom He was surrounded were passionate 
partisans ; everyone expected a Christ that would 
be the glorification and triumph of his own partisan 
ideal ; Christ goes back to the fundamental universal 
non-partisan principles of life and sanctity, and He 
is met from every side with angry looks because He 
does not take up the race with the fanatic and the 
zealot. The Holy Ghost is the Kingdom of God, 
not the triumph of the Jewish nationality — the 
Spirit of God that knows no boundaries ; He is the 
Spirit of the Greek as well as of the Jew ; He is 
the only movement Christ came to establish. 

All popularities are popularities of parties ; to 
substitute for party universal charity and love is 
the surest way to be misunderstood. 



Christ's career has all the characteristics of a 
tragedy ; He was born to be the consolation of 
Israel, and He proved to be the child that is set 
for the fall and for the resurrection of many in 
Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted. 1 

Israel had been living in the hopes of a child 
conceived and born of the Virgin, bearing the 
glorious name of Emmanuel, to be a sign of God's 
omnipotent favour to His people in distress. 

But, like many other long-expected scions of 
ruling houses, He proved to be His people's mis- 
fortune and curse : ' Let his blood be upon us, and 
upon our children.' 2 

History, so full of the cruellest tragedies, has no 
tragedy like the tragedy of Christ. The hope for 
which Israel lived became its curse through that 
awful misunderstanding which the Gospel calls 
blindness of heart. St. Paul has dramatised the 
terrible irony of things with the genius of a Sophocles 

1 St. Luke ii. 34. 2 St. Matt, xxvii. 25, 


in the Epistle to the Romans : ' I speak the truth 
in Christ, I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness 
in the Holy Ghost, that I have great sadness, a 
continual sorrow in my heart ; for I wished myself 
to be an anathema from Christ for my brethren 
who are my kinsmen, according to the flesh, who 
are Israelites, to whom belongeth the adoption as 
of children, and the glory, and the testimony, and 
the giving of the law, and the service of God, and 
the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom 
is Christ, according to the flesh, who is over all 
things, God blessed for ever. . . .' * What then 
shall we say ? That the Gentiles who followed not 
after justice, have attained to justice, even the justice 
that is of faith ? But Israel, by following after 
the law of justice, is not come unto the law of 
justice. Why so ? Because they sought it not by 
faith, but as it were of works ; for they stumbled at 
the stumbling-stone, as it is written, Behold, I lay 
in Sion a stumbling-stone and a rock of scandal, 
and whosoever believeth in Him shall not be con- 
founded/ 2 ' Brethren, the will of my heart indeed 
and my prayer to God is for them unto salvation ; 
for I bear them witness that they have a zeal of 
God, but not according to knowledge ; for they, not 
knowing the justice of God and seeking to establish 
their own, have not submitted themselves to the 
justice of God/ 3 

1 Rom. ix. 1-5. ' Rom. ix. 30-33. * Rom. x. 1-3. 


But nothing would show more clearly the 
bitterness of the tragedy than St. Luke's picture 
in chapter xix. of his Gospel. ' And when Jesus 
drew near, seeing the city, He wept over it, saying, 
If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy 
day, the things that are to thy peace, but now 
they are hidden from thine eyes, for the days 
shall come upon thee, and thy enemies shall 
cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, 
and straiten thee on every side, and beat thee flat to 
the ground, and thy children who are in thee ; and 
they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone, be- 
cause thou hast not known the time of thy visitation/ 

It may be said \vith perfect theological accuracy 
that what was the primary motive of Christ's 
coming was a tremendous failure, a failure which 
Christ tried to avert with all His might. We 
are too apt to think that Christ courted failure 
in order that prophecies might be fulfilled, and 
that His sacrifice on the Cross might become a 
possibility. No doubt it is difficult for our limited 
mind to see how an event which God has chosen 
to be the means of some great good does not become, 
through the fact of that divine choice, a necessary 
and unavoidable event, from which there is no 
escape ; and if efforts at escaping it are made, they 
look very much like so many sham movements. 
As it was written that Christ should die to save 
mankind, we find it difficult to believe that Christ's 


effort to win the Jewish nation to His love were 
efforts of tremendous sincerity. 

He is very persistent in reminding His disciples 
of this His failure, in order to teach them not to 
be discouraged at their own future Apostolic failures ; 
in fact, the memory of Christ's failure ought to 
keep the Christian from being ambitious even 
in his zeal for the Master. ' Amen, Amen, I say 
to you, the servant is not greater than his Lord, 
neither is the Apostle greater than he that sent 
him. If you know these things, you shall be 
blessed if you do them.' l ' If the world hate you, 
know you that it has hated me before you. If 
you had been of the world, the world would love 
its own ; but because you are not of the world, 
but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore 
the world hateth you. Remember my word that 
I said to you, The servant is not greater than his 
master. If they have persecuted me, they will also 
persecute you ; if they have kept my word, they 
will keep yours also. 2 

' And when they shall persecute you in this 
city, flee into another. Amen, I say to you, You 
shall not finish all the cities of Israel till the Son 
of man come. The disciple is not above the master, 
nor the servant above his lord. It is enough 
for the disciple that he be as his master, and the 
servant as his lord. If they have called the good 

1 St. John xiii. i6, 17. a St. John xv, 18-20. 


man of the house Beelzebub, how much more them 
of his household ? ■ x 

In this utterance we have an allusion to the 
saddest instance of Christ's powerlessness against 
Pharisaical envy, and no doubt the failure rankled 
deep in his heart. ' Then was offered to him 
one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb, and 
he healed him so that he spoke and saw ; and 
all the multitude were amazed, and said, Is not 
this the Son of David ? But the Pharisees^ hearing 
it, said, This man casteth not out devils, but by 
Beelzebub the prince of the devils/ To have 
Himself recognised as the Son of David would 
have been Christ's triumph ; to be the Son of 
David meant everything to the Jewish mind. 
But then there is the other extreme, the summit 
of moral depravation, the lowest depth of degrada- 
tion — to be an associate of Beelzebub. Confronted 
by such consummate wickedness of thought, Christ 
speaks of the hopelessness of saving such men. 
• Therefore I say to you, Every sin and blasphemy 
shall be forgiven men ; but the blasphemy of the 
Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whoever shall 
speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be 
forgiven him ; but he that shall speak against the 
Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither 
in this world nor in the world to come.' 2 

This attitude of the Pharisaical mind, even 

1 St. Matt. x. 23-25. " St. Matt. xii. 31, 32. 


more than Christ's death, brings home to us the 
horror of the Christ tragedy. Repeatedly Our 
Lord makes it clear, both by word and deed, that 
He had it in His power to escape physically from 
the hands of His enemies, but nowhere do we find 
it said by Him that it was within His power to 
win His enemies to His love. He did all He could, 
and He failed. ' If I had not come and spoken to 
them, they would not have sinned ; but now they 
have no excuse for their sin. He that hateth me 
hateth my Father also. If I had not done among 
them the works that no other man has done, they 
would not have sinned : but now they have both 
seen and hated both me and my Father. But that 
the word might be fulfilled which is written in 
their law, They have hated me without cause/ 1 

Twice St. Mark, when describing Christ's con- 
troversies with the Pharisees, hints at the feelings 
of this despairing sadness that clouded Christ's 
heart with regard to their spiritual state : ' And 
looking round about on them with anger, being 
grieved for the blindness of their hearts.' * ■ And 
the Pharisees came forth, and began to question 
with him, asking him a sign from heaven, tempting 
him. And sighing deeply in his spirit he said, 
Why doth this generation ask a sign.' 3 

The sin against the Holy Ghost marked, if one 

1 St. John xv. 22-25. 2 St. Mark iii. 5. 

3 St. Mark viii, II, 12, 


may use this expression, the limits of Christ's 
spiritual power : He shrank back helpless ; He 
became its victim, because the Pharisee, confirmed 
for ever in that state of mental perverseness, 
became the direct author of His crucifixion 
and His death. After the resurrection of Lazarus, 
some who had been the witnesses of the miracle 
went to the Pharisees and told them of the miracles 
that Jesus had done. • The chief priests therefore 
and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, 
What do we ? for this man does many miracles. . . . 
From that day therefore they devised to put Him 
to death/ * 

' Judas therefore, having received a band of 
soldiers and servants from the chief priests and the 
Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches 
and weapons/ 2 

The sin against the Holy Ghost is one of the 
facts of the New Testament most deserving of 
the attention of the critic and the theologian. 
It is a phenomenon that stands out in its hideous 
nakedness as prominently as Christ's cross itself, 
with this difference however, that the cross is 
surrounded with the halo of eternal hope, whilst 
the sin against the Holy Ghost is everlasting repro- 
bation, started here on earth. It made the cross 
and got no blessings from it, but only curses ; because 
blasphemy against the Son of man was turned into 

1 St. John xi. 47, 53. ■ St. John xviii. 3. 


praise of the Son of man at the foot of the cross, 
whilst that dark blasphemer against the Holy 
Ghost, the Pharisee, and his confederates, blas- 
phemed more than ever : ' And they that passed 
by blasphemed him, wagging their heads and 
saying, Vah, thou that destroyest the temple of God 
and in three days dost rebuild it, save thy own 
self. If thou be the Son of God, come down from 
the cross. In like manner also the chief priests, 
with the scribes and the ancients, mocking, said, 
He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he 
be the King of Israel, let him now come down 
from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted 
in God ; let him now deliver him, if he will have 
him : for he said, I am the Son of God/ 1 

This blasphemy is the strangest mental in- 
consequence : they admit the fact that He saved 
others, that He worked miracles ; they make use 
of this uncontested power of His to deride His 
present apparent helplessness ; the past signs of 
God's presence in Christ, which they admit, are 
made the occasion of this satanic gibe : ' He 
trusted in God ; let him now deliver him, if he will 
have him.' For such perverseness there is no hope 
of return. 

1 St, Matt, xxvii, 39-43. 



Character is the one element in the human in- 
dividual that gives power over one's fellows. 

It makes all other gifts useful ; without it, the 
most brilliant mind is a mere toy in the hands of 

Character binds our various gifts into one 
mighty organism, making them all into a full-grown 
body, capable of every effort. 

Take one of the most brilliant of human minds 
that ever was, St. Paul : his intellect was of the 
highest rank. But at the same time, its very 
fierceness was a danger to its usefulness. But the 
one element that binds all his thoughts together 
is his intense earnestness and unselfishness of 
character. Whatever St. Paul says belongs not 
only to the permanent, but to the permanently 
living literature of mankind, precisely because 
you feel underneath it all a most potent character, 
in whom there is not a single weakness. 

So with Christ : there is in Him His human 


character. We cannot love Him with a lasting 
love until by meditation we have found out some- 
thing of His manner and ways. 

We know Christ to be the fulness of Godhead ; 
we know Him to be the Wisdom of God. We know 
Him to be the Judge of the living and of the dead. 
We know Him to be the great wonder-worker. But 
all these magnificent, nay, infinite, attributes become 
a living, a fascinating power to us if once we have 
understood His character. 

Not to understand His character makes such 
colossal gifts into a terror rather than into a 

It is the old experience of mankind, in a higher 
way no doubt, yet it is the old experience. 

You hear of a man who is making himself a name 
through brilliant gifts, through great activities — say, 
political activities. Perhaps that very brilliancy of 
gifts is irritating to you, looking at the man from 
a distance, looking at him as a stranger looks on 
another stranger. You think him haughty, selfish, 
unscrupulous, precisely because he is putting for- 
ward brilliant, dazzling, unusual gifts. Now if it be 
your chance or your good fortune one day to make 
the man's personal acquaintance, to be admitted 
amongst the circle of his friends, your prejudice goes 
in most cases, because you have come to see the 
man's character, you have found out how his brilliant 
gifts are reinforced by solid qualities ; how he is 

p 2 


a patient human sufferer after all ; and the charm 
of his character makes you love the man whom 
unusual endowments had rendered suspect to you. 
To hate certain men, the surest way is to keep far 
from them. Love comes with the knowledge of 
their personal character. 

Now, with Christ, there is what I might almost 
call the striking, the brilliant side of His Personality. 
He is a being on a colossal scale to us all. He is 
God ; He is the Victor over Death and Hell. He 
comes in the power of His Father, with the angels 
of God, at the voice of the archangel, with the sound 
of the trumpet of God, to judge the living and 
the dead. His mortal life is full of mighty contrasts ; 
His birth is amongst the angels ; He is set for the 
rise and the fall of many. His death, again, is a 
tragedy on a colossal scale, with rent rocks, and 
darkness all over the earth, and the dead stirring in 
their graves. His resurrection is made known to the 
disciples by an angel whose countenance is like unto 
lightning. There would be the danger, and in fact 
there is the danger of such greatness producing 
nothing but wondering faith, when the proper and 
perfect attitude of Christ's disciple ought to be 
sweet and affectionate love, a friendship more gentle 
than the friendship of man for woman. 

And spiritual experience teaches that those only 
rise above mere wondering faith who have taken the 
trouble of making Christ's personal acquaintance, 


and thus have gained an insight into what I might 
almost call His private character, by studying closely 
His sacred Gospels, trying :o find out the real mean- 
ing, the real intentions of Christ, in every one of His 
deeds and sayings. To quote one instance only. 
The tears shed over the sorrow of the widow who had 
lost her son, or the tears shed over the death of His 
own friend Lazarus, are as important an element 
in the comprehension of Christ's Personality as 
the miraculous resurrection of Easter. The one 
makes Him admirable, the other makes Him lovable. 
Or to keep to the Resurrection itself, Christ's inter- 
view with Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre, His 
ineffably sweet salutation to the holy women, 
when He met them, are as important as the glorious 
and overpowering apparition of the angel that 
announced the great victory over death. They 
reveal Christ's character, and they make of the 
ineffably sublime the ineffably human. 

I am about to make use of a comparison which 
I hope no one will think a profanation if I use it in 
connection with so divine a Personality. Suppose 
history told us that Wellington, half an hour after 
the results of the battle of Waterloo had become a 
certainty to him, had been seen caressing children 
and having them on his knee, such a trait would act 
like some irresistible galvanic force, like some magic 
stream of life, turning the cast-iron statue of a 
superior man into a living being, with sparkling eyes, 


and smiling lips, and a rapturous atmosphere of 
humanity about him. You could not help loving 
the man. His character would have shown itself, 
uniting as by an electric flash the impalpable and 
intangible element of high genius, to turn them 
into the living waters of perfect humanity. I must 
once more crave the reader's pardon for using such 
human similes ; but I am anxious to make him 
understand that up and down the Gospel narrative 
there are those traits, those flashes of humanity, 
which reveal Our Lord's character, and which unite 
all the sublimities of His wonderful Personality 
into the one sweet, most loving and most lovable 
Jesus of Nazareth — the Jesus of the city of flowers. 
It is a study which we have to do ourselves, 
which every Christian who wants to grow in the 
personal love of Christ has to begin from the start. 
Nothing can replace in our spiritual life the constant 
perusal of the Gospel narrative with a view to 
treasure up the character-traits of the Son of God. 
The Gospels themselves are written in such wise 
as eminently to facilitate their study for even the 
simple and ignorant. They are a series of traits. 
The chronological order is made almost entirely 
subservient to the more important role of character 
portraiture. It is a sad thing that, with the multi- 
plication of excellent exegetical works on the Gospels, 
our knowledge of Christ's intimate life is not growing 
apace. I am the very last man to withhold the due 


mede of praise from the productions of modern 
scholarship in its efforts to make the text of the 
Gospels clear, by submitting it to the ordinary canons 
of text interpretation. Such labours have all 
resulted in establishing the intrinsic antiquity, 
authenticity, and majesty of the Gospels. At the 
same time, it has to be admitted that the text of the 
Gospels can fulfil, and does fulfil, its main mission 
without the great scientific apparatus of modern 
scholarship. The Evangelists give us a picture of the 
Lord, such as they knew Him, and this picture every 
human creature is free to behold. 

It would be too long a process to give what I 
consider to be character-traits of Christ, scattered 
as they are all over the four Gospels. I must ask 
the reader to do this himself, and certainly nothing 
could be more profitable to our souls than to write 
out for ourselves such a collection of sayings and 
acts as would endear Christ to us. 

The Holy Ghost Himself has given us the key 
to Christ's personal character, in an immortally 
beautiful passage in the Prophet Isaias — a passage 
which has all the more importance as a character 
sketch of Christ, as the Evangelist St. Matthew 
quotes it amongst circumstances that show well that 
in it we have the main elements of Christ's natural 

The passage is from the forty-second chapter 
of the Prophet Isaias. ■ Behold my servant, I will 


uphold him : my elect, my soul delights in him : 
I have given my spirit upon him, he shall bring forth 
judgment to the gentiles. He shall not cry, nor have 
respect to person, neither shall his voice be heard 
abroad. The bruised reed he shall not break, and 
the smoking flax he shall not quench : he shall 
bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not be 
sad, nor troublesome, till he set judgment in the 
earth ; and the islands shall wait for his law.' * 

St. Matthew quotes it in common with a series 
of Pharisaical fault-findings, and Christ's endeavour 
to spare their feelings. ' At that time Jesus went 
through the corn on the sabbath : and his disciples 
being hungry, began to pluck the ears, and to eat. 
And the Pharisees seeing them, said to him : Behold 
thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do on 
the sabbath day. But he said to them : Have 
you not read what David did when he was hungry, 
and they that were with him : How he entered into 
the house of God, and did eat the loaves of proposi- 
tion, which it was not lawful for him to eat, nor for 
them that were with him, but for the priests only ? 
Or have ye not read in the law, that on the sabbath 
days the priests in the temple break the sabbath, 
and are without blame ? But I tell you that there 
is here a greater than the temple. And if you 
knew what this meaneth : I will have mercy, and 
not sacrifice : you would never have condemned the 

1 Is. xlii. 1-4. 


innocent. For the Son of man is Lord even of the 
sabbath. And when he had passed from thence, he 
came into their synagogue. And behold there was 
a man who had a withered hand, and they asked 
him, saying : Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath 
days ? that they might accuse him. But he said 
to them : What man shall there be among you, 
that hath one sheep : and if the same fall into a 
pit on the sabbath day, will he not take hold on 
it and lift it up ? How much better is a man than 
a sheep ? Therefore it is lawful to do a good deed 
on the sabbath day. Then he saith to the man : 
Stretch forth thy hand ; and he stretched it forth, 
and it was restored to health even as the other. 
And the Pharisees going out made a consultation 
against him, how they might destroy him. But 
Jesus, knowing it, retired from thence : and many 
followed him, and he healed them all. And he 
charged them that they should not make him known. 
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaias 
the prophet, saying : Behold my servant whom I 
have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul hath 
been well pleased. I will put my spirit upon him, 
and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He 
shall not contend, nor cry out, neither shall any man 
hear his voice in the streets. The bruised reed he 
shall not break : and smoking flax he shall not 
extinguish : till he send forth judgment unto victory. 
And in his name the Gentile shall hope.' 


We know what is meant when it is said of anyone 
that he is regardless of his fellow man's feelings and 
interests. Regardlessness is the incapacity or the 
unwillingness practically to admit the fact that our 
fellow creatures are creatures of flesh and blood 
like ourselves, that the humblest of them, if their 
heart be crushed, will groan, and that from their 
skins will purl forth red, warm, human blood, if they 
be pricked, just as it is with ourselves. One can be 
regardless from high motives as well as from low 
motives, and the motive does not change the case. 
One may be a ' bully ' in the pursuit of offices and 
lucre, and one may be a ' bully ' in the pursuit of an 
ideal, even a spiritual ideal. Even a good man may 
become so absorbed with some spiritual scheme as 
to make men, as well as things, subservient to it, 
making mere tools of them for the furtherance of the 
scheme, with a view to some general effect, entirely 
regardless of the rights, the happiness, the needs of 
the individual. The Pharisee is an instance. Man 
with him does not count any more ; it is the law, the 
ideal, the general effect that is everything. 

Now it is precisely in this that Christ differs, toto 
coelo, from the spiritual bully called the Pharisee. 
With Our Lord the ideal is the happiness, the salva- 
tion, the well-being of the individual soul. This 
divine ' regardfulness ' both for the rights and 
possibilities of every human being is essentially His 


He does not carry His disciples along with Him, 
striding on rapidly, towards a high, abstract goal. 
Such may be the conduct of a human leader. Nor 
does He put before them anything great to achieve, 
except to love Him, to be faithful to Him, and give 
faithful testimony of Him when the time comes. 
He drives back energetically any mere ideal, the 
ideal of a kingdom, the ideal of some great spiritual 
estate. The ideal is that they love Him, that they 
love each other, that they believe in His love for 
them. His Personality is the ideal. He considers 
that His life's work is well done, because they have 
come to believe in Him and to love Him. Most 
great men have failed in this point. Their schemes 
have been their idols, and they have utilised the best 
men merely as tools. And as a consequence no one 
remained behind to love them or weep over their 

Christ is God indeed, Christ has all knowledge 
and all power ; He has all things given into His 
hands. But all these gifts He uses in order to give 
eternal life to the humblest and poorest, in order 
that He may be loved by the simplest, in order that 
He may strengthen the weak reed, in order that He 
may rekindle the poor smoking flax. ' Before the 
festival day of the pasch, Jesus knowing that his 
hour was come, that he should pass out of this world 
to the Father : having loved his own who were in 
the world, he loved them unto the end. And when 


supper was done (the devil having now put into the 
heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray 
him), knowing that the Father had given him all 
things into his hands, and that he came from God, 
and goeth to God ; he riseth from supper, and layeth 
aside his garments, and having taken a towel, 
girded himself. After that, he putteth water into 
a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, 
and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was 
girded.' * 

1 St. John xiii. 1-5. 


Christ's place in the world 

It is an indisputable fact that Christ has become 
part of the psychology of many different races. He 
has entered into the depths of their mentality. No 
one but a madman could deny this extraordinary 
enthroning of the Christ ideal in the human mind of 
races most diversified. No critic of a race's men- 
tality would be forgiven if he ignored that great 
element, Christ. It is more than mere religiousness ; 
it is more than a doctrinal grip on theories ; it is 
more than a conscience ; it is something intensely 
personal ; it is essentially the conscience of One 
outside the individual, yet deeply concerned with 
the life of the individual ; it is of One who is a 
historic personality, and has at the same time the 
pliability of an ideal. No dream of even a Celtic 
imagination was less limited in its potentiality than 
is the Christ idea of the Christian races ; at the same 
time see the wondrous individuality of that idea. 
We may differ, since the days of Protestantism, as 
to the practical subjective and objective means of 


getting at Christ, and renewing Christ in our own 
lives. But as for the view of Christ, taken as a 
whole, there is little difference between Catholic 
and Protestant races. 

It would be as unwise as it would be unnecessary 
to minimise the mental differences, say, between 
an English evangelical and a French nun. In 
religious temperament they are the two antipodes ; 
but in the love of the Master they are one and the 
same. No one could be uncharitable enough 
to suspect the English evangelical of hypocrisy ; 
no one would ever dream of accusing the sweet- 
faced, berosaried inhabitant of a French nunnery 
of insincerity. The two are worlds apart in their 
religious temperament ; at the same time, their 
life in Christ whenever it expresses itself does so in 
identical language. 

We have here another phenomenon worthy of 
the thinker's attention : how Christ's person has 
remained practically unimpaired in the Christian 
conscience in that great upheaval of Christian 
sentiment, in that great split of the Church He 
founded, in that great division of minds as to the 
best road of going to Him, called the Reformation. 
If anything were required to show the extent of 
the hold Christ has on His predilect races, this 
circumstance would show it. For the breach 
between the Protestant mind and the Catholic 
mind is profound ; it is almost incurable. But 


the gulf is not in what the Master is felt to be to 
man, but in the practical conception of what man 
ought to be to the Master. The French nun con- 
ceives herself to be Christ's bride, and she sacrifices 
herself even as Christ was sacrificed. 

The English evangelical thinks more of Christ's 
benefaction to him than of an equal return of 
blood for blood. 

Various races have expressed Christ variously. 
We need not make this the cause of scepticism. 
There is such multitudinousness and such pro- 
fundity in Christ's character as to warrant the most 
various expressions of His life. At one time His 
theological, His divine side will appeal more to the 
mind of man. The first centuries are an instance 
of that. Then His crucifixion will be the most 
common feature associated with Him ; the Middle 
Ages lived on the height of Calvary. At other 
periods His personal love is the foremost thought 
with the pious. The best explanation of those 
varieties is the ordinary psychological explanation : 
such views of Christ suit the temper of the period. 
Christ has all the elasticity of an abstract ideal ; 
the created mind that conceives Him shapes Him 
to the image of its own higher and purer part. 
Yet, by doing so, the created mind holds more than 
an empty ideal ; it holds a true substance, because 
Christ is all that in Himself. 

It is one of the results of spiritual education 


to revere the way in which each soul loves Christ, 
speaks to Christ, and speaks of Christ, whilst making 
use of one's liberty to approach Him differently, 
there being no impiety in not joining in specialised 
views of Him, even if such views are for the time 
being the attraction and the devotion of the greater 

Few there are who express to themselves Christ 
wholly ; it may even be questioned whether anyone 
can do it : I mean expressing Him not in His innate, 
interior state of being — for no finite mind could do 
that — but expressing Him in the fulness of His 
state, such as faith teaches Him to be. 

There is nothing one ought to be more careful 
about than to accuse any Christian of holding an 
imperfect, a defective view of Christ. For no 
Christian ever limits Christ in his heart and mind. 
He grasps what he can ; he depicts Him to himself 
according to his need and temper of mind. He 
hardly ever draws the line sharply. He feels that 
He is a Man, but a Man with an endless reserve of the 
Higher Life, with the inclusion of Divinity itself. 
Even if the uneducated were to affirm that he does 
not believe Christ to be God, I should still hesitate 
in my heart to believe him, and give my brother the 
benefit of the doubt. For in his ignorance, to deny 
that Christ is God is not the same as to disbelieve 
the Incarnation ; most likely, if it were put to him 
that Christ is God without ceasing to be man, this 


view of the Godhead, as being a kind of glorious 
reserve in Christ's manhood, would exactly express 
his own slumbering thoughts. 

Christ could not be the living Power He is 
without deeply modifying the ethical sense of 
the nations that worship Him. There are certain 
precepts which we all speak of as precepts of the 
Gospel, because they are so strongly emphasised 
in the Sacred Gospels. But precepts alone would 
not be enough to create a new ethical sense of a 
universal character. 

Ethical sense, in a healthy and normal state, 
gives peace to those that possess it and conform 
to it in practice. It is part of man's innermost 
nature, it belongs to the vital elements of his being. 
No set of precepts, however wise, could 'create the 
ethical sense. 

Precepts, in order to be living things, must be 
expressions of the hidden ethical sense of man ; 
they do not cross his aspirations, they merely 
elevate them. Now, the lessons of history are 
that wherever the name of Christ is alive, there 
we find profound ethical assurance and certainty, 
besides ethical simplicity and directness, all of which 
results in great ethical peace. 

There is, in practice, very little difference between 
the Utopian state of ethical perfection and Gospel 
perfection. The kindliest, purest, strongest man 
of Utopia is not kinder, purer, and stronger than 



the perfect disciple of Christ. Do we not all dream 
of Christian nations as living in simplicity amongst 
Nature's pure beauties, and endowed with every 
manliness that comes, as it were, from close contact 
with Nature ? 

Has not Christianity flourished most luxuriantly 
amongst the ethically healthiest races of the world, 
and is not decline in a nation's ethical healthiness 
also decline in a nation's Christianity ? All that 
ethical healthiness is necessarily Christ's property : 
it is His most precious possession here on earth ; 
it is part of His Kingdom, and He has proved Him- 
self to be the Living God through the fact that He 
has grafted Himself so easily, and as it were so 
naturally, on the purest ethical sense the world does 

I do not think that there could be a movement 
in the world more anti-Christian than that of 
separating the ethical sense of mankind from Christ, 
representing Christ as antagonistic to man's ethical 
sense, and trying to make the ethical sense self- 

Christ is the King of Peace, because in Him 
man's ethical needs are satisfied. He has not 
brought a law only ; He has brought more. 
He has brought life. 

It is very strange that the deepest laws of human 
nature — which are not so much laws as elements 
of life — have come to be considered as the elementary 


precepts of Christianity. We speak of the man 
who violates them in his own person as of a bad 
Christian ; and, as I remarked a moment ago, in 
practice there is no difference between the voice 
of Nature and the voice of Christ. 

In practice, and in the conscience of men, Christ 
has become the voice of Nature. A man is acting 
against the precepts of Christ, not only when he 
does not forgive his enemy, but also when he is 
intemperate or lazy. The purest love, as well as 
the renouncement of all things sensual, is Christ's 
life ; and nothing could be more hurtful to the cause 
of Christianity than to make of renouncement 
Christ's law, and of Nature's true and legitimate 
joys the world's law. They are both Christ's, 
making one and the same life in a variety of 
functions. The mystical nuptials of the cloistered 
virgin and the pure love of conjugal life are equally 
Christian in character, though they may represent 
a difference of spiritual perfection. A founder 
of religion, not wholly divine, could not have hh^ 
on the secret of thus making Nature's purities part 
of His own sanctity, in the conscience of men and 
women. Such a founder of mere human wisdom 
would have singled out one ethical point, one 
ascetical practice, as the special badge for his 

Not so Christ, such a Christ as has lived amongst 
the nations for centuries. He has become to them 



the fulness of every moral perfection, the ideal 
of every purity ; He rebukes them in their hearts 
for every kind of transgression. 

Christ, and ' He crucified/ is to mankind profound 
ethical peace. If there is no peace for the wicked, 
there is no peace either for the man who has lost 
the just balance in the practice of good. The fanatic 
looks as empty of the peace of God as the profligate 
himself. There is no sweet harmony in his soul, 
there is no joyfulness in his eyes however good his 
intentions may be. He is without peace in Himself, 
and he is the enemy of his neighbour's peace. 

It would be almost impossible, humanly speaking, 
to have as one's ethical ideal a God crucified, without 
the danger of an extreme ethical severity, without 
a fanatical courting of the harrowing and the 
dreadful. Yet, Christ crucified has been a greater 
source of joyful peace than any other ethical ideal. 
This comes from the divinely rational measure of 
Christ's crucifixion. 

Christ's cross is the wisdom of God ; its measure 
is God's prudence, if the word ' prudence ' be applic- 
able to the acts of God. There is no wanton display 
of physical endurance in Christ's Passion ; there 
is no inhuman contempt for physical pain ; but 
there is a strong, patient bearing of so much pain 
as was indispensable to achieve a spiritual result. 
Every pang of that divine pain had its own object 
in view, and once the object attained, the pain 


was thrown away as a tool that burns the hand 
that uses it. Christ's Passion was indeed wrapped 
up in the sweetness of God's Wisdom. 

Christ crucified is the source of the ever-refresh- 
ing stream of human life, because His crucifixion, 
taking place in the very centre, as it were, of 
God's wisdom and prudence, is an eternal delight 
to the minds that contemplate it. It is the most 
wondrous proportion between means and end ; it 
was Christ's highest moment of mortal and created 
spiritual life ; and whilst his lips were parched 
with the thirst of his agony, His spirit was quickened 
within Himself, and thus refreshed it went forth 
into the world of spirits, to announce the good 
news of the redemption to those spirits that had 
been incredulous in the days of Noah. 

Christ suffered, as a Divine Person ought to 
suffer, with patient wisdom, yielding reluctantly 
to the encroachment of pain on His own natural 
happiness, yet yielding bravely, because yielding 
meant salvation to the souls He carried in the bosom 
of His love. 



It would be the greatest theological mistake to 
consider Christ's humanity merely as a vessel 
of rare material in which Divinity dwells in a 
state of repose, as in a consecrated tabernacle. 
On the contrary, the humanity of Christ is raised 
through that sublime indwelling to the highest and 
farthest realisation of all the potentialities of 
humanity. Christ is manhood made exceedingly 
great in itself through the participation of Per- 
sonal Godhead. Godhead has achieved in Christ 
an elevation of humanity such as to bewilder the 
heavenly intelligences. Any raising up, therefore, 
of mankind is strictly within the movement and 
the grace of Hypostatic Union. 

To confine the raising up merely to the internal 
graces, to the directly mystical part of man, would 
not do justice to the great fact that God became 
man. The advancement of humanity on every 
possible line of progress, spiritual, mystical, intel- 
lectual, and material, is the only true and adequate 


view of the practical meaning of the Incarnation 
for mankind. There is indeed in Christ's personal 
life a preponderance of the spiritual and mystical, 
a constant reminding of the one important thing 
— salvation of one's soul. In Himself He demon- 
strates that temporal failure is of small account, 
in order to carry out the great Atonement. But 
there is no condemnation of the material order 
of things, there is no spiritual or mystical one- 
sidedness. There is no such ascetical view of the 
life of sanctity with Him as to make it unlikely 
a priori that a great temporal empire might be 
based on the principles of the Gospel — an empire 
impregnated in practical administration with the 
Spirit of Christ. 

No abuse of temporal things or intellectual 
progress by man can ever counterbalance the 
fact that Eternal Wisdom and Eternal Power 
became man, making use of temporal things, and 
thinking in a human intelligence, and making 
therefore through the infinite superiority of His 
one Personality over the whole human crowd 
His use of temporal things, and His knowledge 
of created secrets, an unassailable title to the 
possession of the earth. If the earth belongs by 
right to the best, who has a firmer hold on it than 
the One who is infinitely better than His fellows ? 
It is true that intimacy with, and love for, the 
mystical life in Christ frequently begets in 


simple souls a kind of suspicion of all temporal 
progress as being a hiding and an obscuring of 
Christ's sovereignty. Such suspicions are cer- 
tainly not the fulness of the spirit of Christian 
wisdom. Why should civilisation be a danger 
to the Christ ideal ? A Utopian age would still 
fall short of the human possibilities contained 
in the personal union of the Second Person of 
the Trinity with human nature in Christ. 

It is not at all certain that a lower state of 
civilisation is more favourable to the prosperity 
of Christian faith than a highly advanced civilisa- 
tion. It would be very ungenerous of us to think 
that the Man-God would feel ill at ease in a world 
full of enlightenment and philanthropy. Some of 
us seem to have a lurking fear lest the civilisa- 
tion initiated by Christian ideals should outgrow 
those very ideals, and that it should become greater 
than the Christ who founded it. This is a very 
ungracious attitude of mind, and one that nothing 
in Christ's mortal life, nothing in our Christology, 

That Christ chose poverty, and failure, and 
the cross is no indication that He abdicated that 
sovereignty over the world that is His from the 
simple fact that He is the one being in whom man- 
hood is united to Godhead itself, through oneness 
of personality. 

In His teaching He refers to Himself as the 


king of the world, to whom all power has been 
given. His sayings concerning detachment from 
temporal things are such as might well be taken 
to heart by the director of some mighty business 
in the twentieth century, without such admonitions 
interfering with the man's practical usefulness. 
The eight beatitudes are a possible code of spirituality 
for every conceivable state of human life and 
every sort of temporal enterprise that is honest 
in itself. Riches, which were an insurmountable 
obstacle to the acceptance of the kingdom of God, 
have become the object of a special act of God's 
power, in Christ, to take from them their hardening 
influence. * Then Jesus said to his disciples : 
Amen I say to you, that a rich man shall hardly 
enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again 
I say to you, It is easier for a camel to pass through 
the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter 
the kingdom of heaven. And when they had 
heard this the disciples wondered very much, 
saying : Who then can be saved ? And Jesus 
beholding said to them, With men this is im- 
possible ; but with God all things are possible.' * 
It is true that Christ calls some of His followers 
to the imitation of His own intensely spiritual 
life — a life that discards as far as possible the use 
of temporal things. But Christian tradition has 
always considered such calls to be a special grace, 

* St Matt, xix, 23-26. 


a special vocation, and nothing warrants the 
assertion that it was Christ's intention that the 
majority of those that receive His name are meant 
to follow this more detached mode of life. Those 
that do renounce all things will always be, as they 
have always been, a very small minority of the 
Christian people. Above all, the practice of what is 
called ' Evangelical perfection ' — i.e. of that external 
renunciation of temporal things — if properly under- 
stood, far from being an obstacle to the progress 
of human civilisation, has been one of its most 
potent levers of action. It is a constant principle 
of our Christology that Christ adopted a life of 
comparative poverty and of exclusively spiritual 
powers from His own choice. It was one of the 
many courses He could have followed. He had 
in Him such powers as would have made Him 
the first and greatest in every line of human power 
and influence. Hypostatic Union includes it all, 
and much more. The choice Christ made of what 
might be termed an exclusively spiritual career 
ought not to make us forget how much else there 
was in Him, not indeed in a state of dormancy, 
but in a state of expectation, to become active 
under other circumstances, when the work of His 
spiritual Atonement would be accomplished. 



Christ's Person is the real inwardness of the 
Church. The Church, in the words of St. Paul, 
is Christ's body and the fulness of Him who is 
filled all in all. 1 

All the powers of the Church, all her rights, 
all her duties are conditioned by this personality- 
view of Christ. The Church has no authority 
outside it, has no mission besides it. As a matter 
of fact, Christ's Personality and His Church are 
inseparable concepts ; they are what is called in 
logic convertible concepts — one concept includes 
the other. The Church is not an empire of which 
Christ is the King, because an empire may be 
composed of free men and slaves ; the Church is, 
on the contrary, the union of souls in Christ. There 
may be in the Church administrative power, at 
least in the Church here on earth ; but this power, 
again, is conditioned in its operations and in its 
extent by the personal relations of souls with 

1 Eph. i, 23. 


Christ. The power is given to Peter to win souls 
to Christ, and keep souls in Christ, and his power 
is so great precisely because the aim of it all is 
so great — the restoration of all things in Christ. 

If the power of the Catholic Church or, for the 
matter of that, of the Papacy were to exert itself 
for objects entirely outside that personal relation of 
souls with Christ, the abuse of power would bring its 
Nemesis very swiftly in the way of some great 
religious cataclysm. The nature of ecclesiastical 
power may assume a stern mood, but its sternness 
can never be anything but a reflection of Christ's 
own merciful severities. ' Behold, this is the third 
time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two 
or three witnesses shall every word stand. I have 
told before, and foretell, as present, and now absent, 
to them that sinned before, and to all the rest, 
that if I come again I will not spare. Do you seek 
a proof of Christ that speaketh in me, who towards 
you is not weak, but is mighty in you ? For al- 
though he was crucified through weakness, yet he 
liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak 
in him ; but we shall live with him by the power of 
God towards you. Try your own selves if you be 
in the faith ; prove ye yourselves. Know you not 
your own selves, that Christ Jesus is in you, unless 
perhaps you be reprobates ? But I trust that you 
shall know that we are not reprobates. Now we 
pray God, that you may do no evil, not that we may 


appear approved, but that you may do that which is 
good, and that we may be as reprobates. For we 
can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 
For we rejoice, that we are weak, and you are strong : 
This also we pray for, your perfection. Therefore 
I write these things, being absent, that, being 
present, I may not deal more severely, according to 
the power which the Lord hath given me unto 
edification, and not unto destruction. For the rest, 
brethren, rejoice, be perfect, take exhortation, be 
of one mind, have peace ; and the God of peace and 
of love shall be with you. Salute one another with a 
holy kiss. All the saints salute you.' x 

1 2 Cor. xiii. 1-13, 



The dominion which the Almighty gave to man at 
the beginning of all things over 'the fishes of the sea 
and the fowls of the air and the beasts and the 
whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth 
upon the earth/ * is not only inexhaustible in 
its resources, but also unlimited in its possible 
developments. Mother Earth whilst feeding her 
children is not always equally known by her children, 
and perhaps the race of men that will know her 
perfectly is not to come for thousands of years 
yet ; but when such a race actually does come, 
the earth it will tread will not be a different earth 
from the one on which we move. Their dwellings 
will stand on the same ground as was tenanted 
by the primitive man with his savage hut. Now 
this is a parable in order to convey the attitude of 
the human race, or even of Christian races, towards 
the God-man, towards the second Adam, the great 
foundation, as St. Paul calls Him, on which we all 
build up our spiritual dwelling. 
1 Gen. i. 26. 


Christ is to be conquered by the world as the 
earth is to be conquered by man. We have to 
find out His treasures, His secrets, His spirit, and 
the success of that conquest has as many phases as 
man's conquest of the earth. There never was any 
intermittence in the earth's subjugation by man ; 
but how different has been man's dominion at 
various periods ! So Christ has always been 
possessed by man ; but how different has been at 
various times that blessed possession of Him ! 

To some minds it may be a scandal to find 
Christ is loved and comprehended so spasmodically, 
with such variability ; yet such is exactly the fate 
of creation in general. Christ is God's great spiritual 
creation, more wonderful than any material creation ; 
why should we be surprised at the endless flow 
and ebb of the human mind and the human heart 
with regard to Him ? He must be contradicted 
as well as loved. He must be misunderstood as 
well as hailed with hosannas. He must be the 
sweet food of the world as well as the world's terror. 
He is the fulness of God's creation ; we go in and 
go out in Him, and we find pasture in Him, according 
to our taste and talent. That wonderful continuity 
of His spirit and truth, the Catholic Church, does 
not alter the fact that Christ is man's conquest 
with a great variety of success ; for even inside 
the Catholic Church the practical comprehension 
of His spirit and the practical application of His 


great law of love has its periods of savage primitive- 
ness, and its periods of high civilisation, to speak 
metaphorically. Faith in Him is like the unchanging 
earth; sanctity in Him, with its accompanying 
gift of wisdom and understanding, admits of endless 
developments, failures, changes, and triumphs. 

History speaks of different civilisations as well 
as of the differences between barbarity and civili- 
sation. Some of the greatest civilisations seem 
to be older than all known forms of barbarity ; 
nothing prevents our thinking in that way of 
God's great spiritual creation — Christ. The earliest 
record of man's conquest of Christ is high sanctity 
— the sanctity of the primitive Church. There were 
other sanctities, or rather other periods of sanctity 
— sanctity being the same essentially at bottom, 
yet with differences that are as great as the differ- 
ences between various civilisations. Oneness of 
spirituality is not monotony of spirituality, and 
provided it be the same Christ, the same Faith, the 
same spirit of God, even the strictest orthodoxy 
will welcome any fresh manifestation of man's 
conquest of Christ. 

Christ is not like men — and heaven knows 
how many such men there are — who are all front 
with nothing behind, who are seen through at a 
glance and put away with as much thought about 
them as about common glass ; they are not the 
men that ever will be contradicted or misunderstood. 


Christ is the man behind whose human front there 
is the infinite Godhead, the man who speaks not 
of the present hour only but of the end of the world. 
1 And he said : So is the kingdom of God as 
if a man should cast seed into the earth, and 
should sleep, and rise night and day, and the 
seed should spring and grow up whilst he knoweth 
not.' 1 

1 St. Mark iv. a6, 27. 



Christ's religion is indeed a religion of the present 
world ; it has finality in this world, though it has 
not its ultimate finality here. It gives happiness 
here on earth, though the happiness it gives is not 
ultimate happiness. 

Such indeed are the advantages of Christian 
spirituality that no better spirituality could be 
devised for a race who would have no higher world 
to look forward to, as Christian ethics combine in 
giving to human life the highest sum of happiness. 

The purpose of Christianity is sanctification, 
which means everything holy and true and beautiful. 
Its end is life everlasting, not indeed in the sense of its 
having no other interests except the interests of the 
invisible world, but in the sense of its sanctification 
being such as to bear everlasting fruits. 

If the invisible world were Christianity's first 
and last finality, there might be the danger of 
exaggerated other-worldliness. The end and finality 
of Christianity is a sanctity which must needs take 


into account the present world ; but eternal life 
is a natural result. 

It may be said indeed that a desire for heavenly 
glory is part of sanctity. But it is not a part of 
the effort of sanctity — for who could make an effort 
to ascend to heaven ? — but it is the natural conscious- 
ness that our present life sanctity finds its consumma- 
tion in eternal glory. This is why we find in Christian 
spirituality the double phenomenon of Christ being 
present with us, filling our hearts with His love, 
and of that kind of yearning for the absent friend 
whom we hope to find in heaven. No more incom- 
plete view of Christianity could be given than to 
define it a striving after a Christ who lives in the 
heavenly world. Christianity is life with Christ 
here on earth, and where highest sanctity ha9 
flourished, there has been the greatest actual presence 
of our Lord. 

The question might be asked how in practice a 
religion would shape the minds and hearts of men if 
that religion had no finality in this world, but had it 
all in the next ? To say the least, it would reduce 
everything human to the level of merely utilitarian 
means ; it could not love anything here on earth for 
its own sake ; it would be the dwarfing and warping 
of every human generosity ; and no doubt with 
logical minds the disaster would go farther still, as 
the conviction would grow stronger that man has no 
direct means of ascending into heaven. But such is 

R 2 


not Catholicism. It is an effort at human spiritu- 
ality, at human sanctity, at a perfection to be acquired 
here in life. Its eternal results are not indeed 
indifferent to the saint ; they are of the utmost 
importance to him, as his sanctification is essentially 
the perfection of his own immortal, never-dying soul. 
But it may be asserted quite safely that even with 
the greatest saint the thought of his going to heaven 
is only one of many thoughts, kept in its proper place 
by the more urgent and more active thoughts of 
doing the deeds of charity, of finding Christ in his 
own heart, of speaking with Him, and of being 
happy in His company. 

The thought of heaven itself has always been 
considered as one of the main considerations to 
make the present life happy and perfect. It helps 
sanctity ; but our efforts are not for the heavenly 
mansions, our efforts are for sanctity. Over and 
over again we find in Christ's religion, such as ex- 
perience shows it to be, this wonderful balance of 
transcending philosophical wisdom : the crucified 
God teaches merciful tenderness for physical suffer- 
ing ; the Word that is in the bosom of the Father is 
the most perfect human being reigning in heaven 
at the right hand of the Father ; His religion is the 
religion of the present world's happiness. Besides 
His throne in heaven He has His real presence in 
the Eucharist, and the unsatisfied craving of highest 
Christian sanctity is not so much of finding Him as 


of seeing Him, because sanctity has found Him 
already, but being of this world it has not seen 
Him yet. 

The relation between sanctity here in life and 
eternal life might be considered from various points 
of view. Just now I want to insist on the psycho- 
logical point of view — I mean the attitude of the 
Christian saint towards the blessedness of heaven. 
It is certain that no saint has any experimental 
knowledge of what awaits him in heaven ; his 
desires for heaven, whatever they may be, are not 
of the things he has tasted and wants to taste again ; 
even when most intense, those desires are immensely 
inferior to the excellency of the thing. To have a 
desire for heaven proportionate to the excellency 
of the heavenly bliss, one ought to imagine an elect 
who has lived in heaven and has come out of it 
again, back to mortal life — a supposition that is 
evidently contradictory in its terms. The saint's 
attitude therefore towards heaven is not, and never 
could be, the attitude of the man who is in search of 
a happiness he knows experimentally. It may be 
doubted whether it is at all possible to strive for 
an unknown thing ; one might wait for it, wonder- 
ing all the time what it will be, but striving for it 
with eagerness of mind and heart does not seem pos- 
sible. This is why Christian sanctity is, essentially, 
an effort to possess Christ, to taste His sweetness, 
because, though He may not be fully known, He is 


not unknown. It may be said that every stage of 
sanctity has a realisation of Christ's Presence that 
gives it there and then entire satisfaction. 

But heaven and its glorious mysteries are always 
beyond man's realisation. They are never to him 
a possession here on earth as Christ is. Christ is a 
kingdom within ourselves, heaven is a kingdom out- 
side ourselves, and it is the inward kingdom that 
makes Christ's soldier happy in all his battles. 

I do not think high spiritual life to be at all 
possible without that kingdom of God within us, 
whose peace surpasseth all understanding. To put 
it more clearly still, a spiritual system with no results 
in this life, with no gain in this life but merely as an 
effort towards and an expectation of a life after 
death, would be a great psychological blunder. Our 
Lord's religion is no such blunder. 



Christ's real Presence in the Blessed Eucharist 
and His continued sacrifice on the altars of the 
Catholic Church at mass stamp His Personality 
with an originality as great as is Hypostatic Union. 
The Christian Eucharist, under its twofold aspect 
of food and sacrifice, is an inimitable concept ; by 
itself it would suffice to render Christianity unfit 
for the classification of Comparative Religion. 

The Christ of the Eucharist has been made the 
object of a sort of specialisation in theology. Scho- 
lastic treatises on the wonderful sacrament and the 
not less wonderful sacrifice are as comprehensive 
and as important as the treatises on the Incarnation 
itself. Here I am concerned with one aspect only 
of that great spiritual marvel : the relation between 
Christ's mortal life and Christ's eucharistic life. 
All the moral perfection, all the sanctity, all the 
merit, all the atonement of which the God-man is 
capable were consummated in His one mortal life. 


Christ is no exception to the great law of finality, 
which seems an inherent element of human life. 
How, then, are we to view this prolonged existence of 
Christ on earth ? How are we to view that endless 
repetition of His sacrifice from sunrise to sunset, on 
the altars of the Church, to the end of the world ? 
The measure of our redemption was full when 
Christ had shed the last drop of His blood ; how then 
this repetition in millions and milliards ? It will 
seem a paradox, yet it is the truest way to state 
the matter. The eucharistic renewing of Christ's 
death is a result of that infinite fulness of redemp- 
tion that is in Christ's mortal life. Because Christ 
merited infinitely, merited and atoned with a luxu- 
riant superabundance, we have the real Presence, we 
have the daily sacrifice of the Christian altar. For 
we ought to remember that the Eucharist itself 
is the result of Christ's merits, that through the 
sanctity of His life and death He gained for us 
the wonder of wonders : the Eucharistic Transub- 
stantiation and its inherent sacrifice. 

The Eucharist is the Christian's greatest privi- 
lege simply because It enables Him to enter into 
direct and physical communion with Christ's life 
and death. And this privilege Christ merited for 
His faithful, through the excess of His atoning 
love. To detach the Eucharist from Christ's 
mortal life would be the greatest aberration in 
the things of Christ. From the very beginning 


of the controversies about Christ's Divine Person- 
ality, the orthodox theologians challenged Nestorius 
to explain the Christian Eucharist without Divine 
Personality. How could we eat the flesh of one 
who is not God ? Between Hypostatic Union 
and Transubstantiation the relation is most in- 
timate, and most likely it implies contradiction 
that a human organism that has not Divine Being 
should be the physical food of spirits, in the super- 
natural order of things. After all, it is merely the 
instrumentum conjunctum Divinitatis in its highest 

But though we know little as to the aptitude 
which Christ's humanity gained to be the Eucharist 
of the Christian people through its life and death, 
yet the whole genius of our theology warrants the 
supposition that Christ became fit most eminently 
for this role through His life and death. His 
mortal career gave Him consummate fitness, in 
every sense, to be the author of life to souls. 

Now, as ' life ' is essentially a personal relation 
with Him, the great object of all the merit orious- 
ness of His sanctity was union with Himself; 
He merited this, that we should be in Him, and 
He in us. The Eucharist is the grandest and 
truest result of His holiness, as it is the grandest 
and truest union with the Person of Christ. All 
sacraments derive their spiritual powers from 
Christ's death. That one of them, instead of 


merely containing Christ's grace, contains Christ 
Himself only goes to show the efficacy of Christ's 
death. In the Eucharist, the Personality, which 
is the pivot of Christianity, has become not only 
a centre and a source of grace, but a means of 

The protestant argument against the Eucharist 
in general, and the Sacrifice of the Mass in par- 
ticular, based on the all-sufficiency of the sacrifice 
of Calvary, would be best met by emphatic in- 
sistence, not only on the all-sufficiency, but on the 
infinite superabundance of it. All-sufficiency in 
the protestant mind applies to the work of Christ ; 
it never means to the protestant all-sufficiency of 
mystical contact of souls with the great sacrifice. 
We grant him the all-sufficiency he knows of; 
we grant it more liberally than the protestant does ; 
we grant an all-sufficiency of work so great that 
it breaks its limits, and from an all-sufficiency of 
work it becomes an all-sufficiency of contact of 
a most real nature. 



Presence means the existence of a being in a 
given part of the material universe. When we 
speak of presence, we must of necessity imply a 
certain position or attitude with regard to a material 

If there were no matter, but only spirits, there 
could be no question of either presence or absence ; 
there would be question only of distinct spiritual 
individualities, which would be neither near nor 
distant with regard to each other, but would exist 
each one by itself, having power to admit co-existing 
spirits into communication with its own intellectual 
life, or exclude them. 

Presence and absence are essentially and 
radically connected with space, and space is con- 
nected with matter. 

Now, though a spirit could not be said to be 
present or absent, with regard to a fellow spirit, 
if they remained both outside the material world, 
they are present or absent from each other on 


account of the material world. For one spirit may 
be in one part of the material world, and another 
spirit in another part of the material world, and 
then there is real distance between the two. 

But how and why is a spirit in the material 
universe when his nature is so very immaterial ? 

The answer is this. A spirit is said to be in 
a certain place of the material universe, simply 
and solely because he exerts certain activities, 
produces certain effects, in that place, or on the 
material thing of that place, or even on the spiritual 
thing already connected, in a similar way, with 
that place. 

If the spirit stops exerting his activity in the 
way mentioned, this very cessation of activity 
is in itself infinite distance from the spot where 
he was truly the instant before. The spirit comes 
and goes, not through movement, as a bodily 
thing, but through action or cessation of action 
on a bodily thing. 

God and the angels are present in this way. 
Therefore, if a spirit can exert his activities on 
various parts of the universe at the same time, 
he is truly present at the same time to those various 
parts of the universe. 

The more perfect a spirit, the more numerous 
are the points of the universe to which he can be 
present at the same time. 

God, who is a spirit of infinite perfection, is 
accordingly present at the same time to every 


point of the material universe, as every point of 
the material universe wants His sustaining power. 

The human soul, in its present state at least, 
is the last and lowest amongst the spirits. Its 
main activity is to give life to the body, therefore 
it cannot be outside the individual body. 

So much for the presence of spirits. It is a 
noble attribute of theirs ; it is the majesty of 
their spirituality. They can be really present 
to the lowliest sort of matter, and yet remain 
infinitely superior to it. They are not contaminated 
by matter, but they invest matter with their sweet 

Coming now to the presence of bodies, in the 
material universe their being present anywhere 
comes from their imperfection, not their perfection ; 
for their presence is such that they cannot help 
being present. 

A body must of necessity occupy one given 
point of space in the material universe, and when 
the body occupies one given point of the material 
universe, it cannot be outside this one point at 
the same time. It is the subjection of a bodily 
creature which is the slave of space, whilst a spirit 
is the king over space. 

It is true our glorified bodies in heaven, and 
above all the glorified body of Our Lord, are given 
wonderful powers of agility, so as to transport 
themselves from one spot to the other of the material 
world with the rapidity of thought. It is a certain 


liberation from the subjection to space. Yet even 
then it will be impossible for the glorified body 
to be at the same time in two places. 

Now the wonder of wonders in the matter of 
presence, a majesty of presence almost akin to 
the majesty of God's Presence, which is everywhere, 
and yet remains directly above everything, is 
Christ's Eucharistic Presence. 

Though Our Lord's body in its glorified condition 
has only one natural, spacial Presence in the universe, 
viz. heaven, at the same time God, in His omnipo- 
tence, has given it a supernatural, non-spacial power 
of presence, which it exerts at the same time with 
its natural spacial Presence. As the rule for this 
supernatural, non-spacial Presence is God's omnipo- 
tence, there is no limit to points of the universe at 
which it may exert itself simultaneously. This is 
what I call the majesty of the Eucharistic Presence. 

It is no more a humiliation than the omni- 
presence of God ; it is, on the contrary, a perfection 
of state too high for even angelic acumen. 

That God should inhabit on high, and yet dwell 
in the lowest nature — this is the majesty of Divine 
Presence ; it is first and greatest. 

That the Son of man should have ascended 
bodily where He was first, and yet should be in 
every corner of the universe bodily — this is the 
majesty of the Eucharistic Presence ; it is the 
second greatest and most merciful Presence marvel. 



Almighty God has made man's salvation and 
sanctification depend on the pouring out of the 
blood of His only begotten Son. Our Lord's life, up 
to the shedding of His blood, was a life of immeasur- 
able sanctity, a life of an infinite moral perfection. 
Yet it is not to any act of that wonderful career 
our Redemption and Sanctification are due. 

The humility of His birth, the hidden prayer 
and obedience of His thirty years at Nazareth, 
the zeal and labour and bitterness of His public 
preaching did not win the salvation and redemption 
of mankind. We know, of course, that all those 
years of Our Lord's life were infinitely meritorious ; 
but we know with less certainty in what manner 
those merits of the God-man benefit the human 
race ; we know, however, that it is not through 
them we were bought back from the servitude of 
Satan. Our price, the price of our redemption, 
is essentially the precious blood of the unspotted 


The blood of God's Son poured out like water, 
the blood of God's Son drunk by man, absorbed by 
the higher nature of man — this and nothing else 
was to be our redemption and our sanctification. 

In making the blood of His Son the price and 
vehicle of every grace, God has shown wonderful 
knowledge of the mysteries of human nature — 
if one could use these words with regard to One 
who has made human nature. 

Our blood is our human individuality. We are 
what we are through the communication of the 
blood of our parents. Our far-reaching differences 
of temperament and power come from the blood 
that flows in our veins. It makes us of what nature 
we are : apt for good, or prone to evil. 

Neither the philosopher nor the theologian 
can lay too much stress on the phenomena of 
heredity — phenomena that invariably point to the 
fact that it is man's blood that contains the germs 
of parental depravities or perfections. 

In the blood of the Son of God we have a blood 
of absolute human purity — a blood that carries no 
germs of evil, but is filled, through the human 
laws of heredity, with every perfection because it 
is blood from an Immaculate Mother. 

The blood of Our Lord is precious, primarily 
on account of Mary's spotlessness, through the 
immunity from all concupiscence, which was our 
Lady's privilege. That Our Lord's blood should 


have been endowed with absolute, human purity 
we owe to Mary. Had she had the seeds of sin in 
her blood, the fomes peccati, Our Lord's blood might 
still have received purity from above | but it would 
not have had human purity, it would not have 
been precious as a human blood. 

But now, thanks to Mary's spotlessness, human 
blood flowed in the veins of our Lord that came 
down from Adam, and had nothing in itself except 
what was purest and noblest in the human race from 
the beginning. 

Besides this accumulation of human perfections, 
the blood of Our Lord was made still more precious 
through the indwelling of the Spirit of God. It 
had divine heredity besides human heredity. The 
Spirit of God had rilled it with the fulness of Divine 
Life, when it was already precious as the product of 
Mary's noble life. 

In this twofold heredity we have the key to 
the mystery of the Precious Blood ; we know now 
why both its atoning and sanctifying power are 

St. Paul, in one of his pregnant sentences, makes 
it easy for us to remember the whole theology 
of the Precious Blood. ' For if the blood of goats 
and oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, 
sanctify such as are defiled : How much more 
shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost 
offered Himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our 


consciences from dead works, to serve the living 
God ? ' » 

The blood unspotted, filled with the Holy Ghost, 
poured out through that very generosity communi- 
cated to it by the Holy Ghost, purifies the con- 
science, not externally, but internally by raising 
it, ennobling it — in one word, by making it serve 
the living God. 

The blood of Our Lord is drunk by our soul 
in the mystery of the Holy Eucharist, is drunk 
by that highest and innermost part of ourselves, 
where spiritual temperament, or conscience, are to 
be found ; and it gives to that part of our being, 
by a new kind of heredity, its own nobility ; it 
makes us have God in our blood. 

When you are in contact with a Catholic people, 
with Catholic multitudes (for masses are the best 
guide in these things), you find a refinement of 
thought, a depth of feeling in things spiritual, a 
keen insight into heavenly matters, which are pain- 
fully wanting in non-Catholic populations. 

You ask yourself why this gulf between the 
mental states of two families of people, geographi- 
cally and racially perhaps, so near. There is only 
one answer possible : It is in the blood — in the 
blood that is drunk by the Catholic people, that 
has been drunk by their fathers and their fathers' 

1 Heb, ix, 13, 14. 


The blood of our Lord, wherever it is found, 
must produce great confidence in God ; confidence 
in God is its primary and principal effect. Not 
only does it give us confidence through the belief 
that we have been bought at so great a price, but 
it gives confidence by a kind of heredity, a psycho- 
logical transformation in the spirit that receives it. 
We become spiritually, supernaturally sanguine. 
We expect everything from God, precisely because 
we have in our veins that precious blood that 
makes the heart of the Son of God throb with 
unlimited confidence in the goodness of the Father. 

S 2 



The fact alone of Hypostatic Union should turn 
the scales in favour of religious and theological 
optimism. How could mankind be a doomed race 
after the Personal Union of Divinity with one 
individual member of that race ? How could our 
prospects be hopeless when we consider that man 
is God, and that God is man ? if, with St. Thomas, 
I may be permitted to make use of these two con- 
vertible propositions in order to express the privilege 
conferred on humanity. The Godhead of Christ is 
a fact of infinitely greater reality than all the 
accumulated sinfulness of the human race. A race 
in which a Divine Person could be fittingly enshrined 
through a union such as is Hypostatic Union could 
not be radically bad to start with. It is true there 
is only one individual nature of that race that was 
thus united. All the same with God as his brother, 
man's future must be predominantly lightsome. 
By all the laws of thought, an infinitude of goodness, 
such as is the property of Christ's Personality, is 


for the human race, which is Christ's race, a vastly 
more significant fact than that immense accumu- 
lation of moral deformities which are mankind's 
history. If mankind has, as we know it to have, 
spiritual enemies of a higher order and preternatural 
perverseness, one could hardly think of a more 
admirable way for them of wronging man than to 
blind him to the fact of that overtowering sanctity 
which is in Christ, and which can never have a 
corresponding moral evil, so to speak, of equal size. 

But there is more than mere presence amongst 
us of a Brother who is a Personality of infinite 
perfection ; He is not only a Presence that gladdens 
us by its glories, but He has come to us in the 
infinitude of His grace with wonderful determina- 
tion to work at our salvation. He has come with 
infinite resolve to take away sin, to destroy death, 
to give life. ' Blotting out the handwriting of the 
decree that was against us, which was contrary 
to us. And he hath taken the same out of the 
way, fastening it to the cross ; and despoiling the 
principalities and powers, he hath exposed them 
confidently in open shew, triumphing over them in 
himself.' » 

Who would dare to accuse St. Paul of using 

hyperbolic language ? Such a deed described by 

St. Paul as accomplished by the God-man changes 

for ever the mutual position of moral good and 

1 Col, ii. 14, 15. 


moral evil. Mankind's moral good from the very 
fact of the Incarnation, as I have said already, is 
infinitely greater than mankind's guilt. All men 
put together could never commit sin that would be 
a dark spot as large in size as is that bright sun, 
Christ's sanctity. But there is more than that : the 
sin of man has been positively assailed by Christ ; 
He has destroyed it in His own body, He has 
swallowed it like a poison, and though He died 
through it He found a higher life in His death. 

We are all used from our childhood to expres- 
sions of that kind ; all the same, we find it difficult 
to live in the serene optimism of the Epistles of 
St. Paul. After all, we say, souls are lost even now, 
and perhaps in large numbers. How can there 
be optimism with that dreadful terror ? Is not every 
preacher at pains to inspire us with terror at the 
number of those that go to perdition ? I have no 
opinion as to the relative numbers of the saved 
and the lost. Our Lord has warned us in the 
Gospels against the presumption that wants to 
look beyond the practical issues of spiritual life. 

But if one thing is clear to me it is this : that 
such losses, whatever their number may be, could 
never take away one jot or tittle from that glorious 
optimism which is the Christian's birthright. I 
am sure of the fact that God became man and that 
He put infinite energy and sincerity into the work 
of man's salvation ; of this I am sure with all the 


conviction of my Christian faith. If there are 
human beings that are lost, I feel certain that 
their loss is of such a description that it need not 
excite in me the least compassion : for I know 
that if their salvation had been possible it would 
have been accomplished by the redemption of 
Christ. I know that if there had been good will, 
such good will would have become an instrument 
of happiness in the hands of the God-man. Simple 
souls many times ask the question : How is it that 
the elect can be happy in heaven for all eternity, if 
there be a correspondingly long period of misery 
for other rational beings — the reprobate in hell ? 
I know it is a difficult task to convince those good 
souls of the futility of reading their present kind 
feelings for every suffering beast into the spirit- 
state of eternity ; one thing is certain : with that 
perfection of human nature which comes from 
consummate sanctity, the elect in heaven enjoy 
happiness that cannot be darkened one moment 
by the thought of the miseries of the reprobate. 
Reprobation, whatever it may be, is simply a thing 
that cannot excite compassion. If it could excite 
compassion, the whole universe would be at pains to 
find a remedy. It ought to be our first principle 
in thinking of reprobation that it is a state which 
is so absolutely the doing of the lost, without its 
being anybody else's fault, as to exclude compassion 
even from the heart of the Saviour. 


So likewise with the sanctity of the Incarnation 
and the concomitant redemption. Its efficacy is 
not in the least diminished through the fact of 
the loss of men even under the new dispensation, 
and the possibility of souls being lost under the 
very shadow of the cross does not limit the extent 
of that constant truth expressed in the scriptures 
that Christ destroyed sin completely. It may be 
difficult for my finite mind to reconcile the two 
facts ; but the fact of God's death on the cross is 
an infinite fact. It is the one fact which I am 
exhorted by every Christian authority to cherish 
and to keep before my eyes. I shall look at the 
world through that fact, and all other things must 
take up their position accordingly. To say that 
Christ's work of redemption is in any way a failure 
is downright blasphemy. We may say indeed that 
Christ failed during His mortal life to win the 
hearts of His enemies, but it could never be true to 
assert that the eternal loss of any human being could 
be a slur on the efficacy of the Grace of the cross. 

There are strange aberrations in the minds of 
even good people, which no doubt come to those 
minds from their being too much the slaves of 
imagination and sentiment. It is just possible 
that even a holy man might have his spiritual life 
darkened through the thought of the loss of many, 
in spite of Christ's cross, or even perhaps through 
an abuse of Christ's grace. I should begin by 


telling him not to be more perfect than the saints 
in heaven, who cannot suffer simply because they 
see all things in the light of eternal truth. Eternal 
loss is not meant, and cannot be meant, to be 
an object of compassion precisely because it is 
irremediable ; if it could be terminated and its 
termination could be hastened by our efforts, 
compassion would indeed be well employed, at 
least spiritual compassion ; for when it is a question 
of mortal beings pitying spirit-beings, ordinary 
tenderness of heart would be a very bad guide. 
But let the holy man pour out his active mercies 
over people here on earth, who have it in their power 
not to go to that place of torment. Let him pity 
the souls of men because they do not make use of 
the graces whilst graces lie at their door. Such 
were Our Lord's compassions and sadnesses. 

It may seem contradictory that one should be 
exhorted to have compassion on people who run 
towards their ruination when they have it in their 
power to run towards life eternal, and not to have 
compassion on them any more when they have 
actually fallen into eternal perdition. A reader 
might accuse me of being like a man whose heart 
is filled with distress because he sees a friend 
gambling away his family estate, and who adopts 
an attitude of supreme indifference towards the 
poor wretch when once he is in the workhouse. 
But the comparison is not fair. The human soul 

s 3 


that leaves this life outside the grace of Christ no 
longer belongs to humanity ; it no longer belongs 
even potentially to the mystical body of Christ ; 
its severance from redeemed humanity is such that 
Christ Himself, who is the head of the human race, 
cannot own it any more. 

We are all used to the beautiful expression 
that Christ is the head of the Church. St. Paul's 
theology is summed up in it. 

St. Thomas Aquinas, however, goes one step 
farther, and declares Christ to be the head of all 
men. In question eight of the third part of the 
Summa, he shows how Christ is indeed the head 
of the Church, in virtue of an actual influxus of 
spiritual vitalities on His part into the souls and 
bodies of the baptised. But these considerations 
are followed by an article entitled Utrum Christus 
sit caput omnium hominum — ' Whether Christ be 
the Head of all men.' I quote his own words ; 
they are wonderfully liberal and generous. ' I 
say therefore that, speaking universally and taking 
in the whole duration of the world, Christ is the 
Head of all men. But this has various degrees. 
For He is first and mainly Head of those who are 
actually united to Him through (heavenly) glory. 

* In the second place, He is the Head of those 
who are actually united to Him through charity. 
Thirdly, of those who are united through faith to 
Him. Fourthly, of those who are united to Him only 


potentially (as a possibility), a potentiality not 
realised yet, but which is to be realised one day 
according to divine predestination. Fifthly, then, 
is He the Head of those who are united to Him 
merely potentially, according to a potentiality that 
is never to be realised : such are men who live 
in this world, but are not predestined to heaven. 
Such men, however, when they leave this life, cease 
absolutely to be members of Christ, because they 
are no longer endowed with the capability of being 
united to Christ.' 

Reprobation is the only power that tears man 
away from the sweet possibilities of the Incarnation. 
The reprobate lacks the potentiality of being 
Christ's ; he is of another world altogether. 

Very wisely, and very generously, St. Thomas 
makes that wonderful potentiality consist in two 
things only : the power of Christ, and freedom of 
will on the part of man. ' Which potentiality is 
founded on two things : first indeed and chiefly, 
in the power of Christ that is sufficient for the 
salvation of the whole human race ; then, in a 
secondary way, in the freedom of will.' l 

1 Ad 1 urn, 



The fact of an individual human nature being 
united hypostatically with Divinity is a spiritual 
fact of the highest importance quite on its own 
merits. In other words, our spiritual life is raised 
up wonderfully not only through what Christ did 
and said and taught, but the fact of Christ, the 
fact of Hypostatic Union, makes us live, if we are 
but willing, in an entirely new world. How could 
we ever take a merely natural view of mankind 
if we are at all convinced that there has been a 
man who is God — God in the inexhaustible infinitude 
of meaning that is implied in the word ' God ' ? 

The great ones of mankind have been benefactors 
not only through the things they did ; but their 
very greatness as such is their best benefaction, 
because their intrinsic greatness raises the race and 
gives it a renewed consciousness of its excellency. 
Therein no doubt lies the charm of every great 
biography : a great man becomes easily the friend 
and the idol of many of more humble calibre to 


whom the external activities of the great man have 
practically been of no profit. 

So with Christ : His being God, with all the 
excellencies and powers implied in the Hypostatic 
Union, His being so great is in itself and by itself 
mankind's best treasure. The world's teeming mil- 
lions are not too big a crowd for One so elevated ; 
He stands amongst them as distinctly cognisable 
as if He were alone ; He is so great that the hubbub 
of endless worlds could never succeed in drowning 
the least whisper from His lips. 

Hypostatic Union, with its infinitude of personal 
worth, becomes I might almost say a mathematically 
proportionate thing, if we consider that Christ is 
the one Person of whom every human individual 
to the end of the world might say with as much 
fulness and truthfulness as every other human 
creature : ' He is my ideal, He is my hero, He is 
my love.' 

The sensation of the pilgrim who sits by the Lake 
of Galilee and says to himself with such absolute 
certainty, 'On these waters Christ sailed/ is no 
doubt a terrestrial embodiment of that much vaster 
thought that must fill the angelic mind when it 
looks at the human race. ' This is the race out 
of which there came God/ 

No doubt there is a quickening of soul and body 
in Christ's faithful through Christ's grace that 
makes of that kind of hero-worship a unique thing, 


a life-giving thing, a kind of hero reproduction. 
Christ is our ideal indeed, but He is also our life. 
Yet, as an ideal and as a mere raising up of one 
human individual to an infinite altitude, Hypostatic 
Union ought to colour with optimism the whole 
human outlook. 

To discard in practice the fact that we are 
dealing with creatures who by the very laws of 
their nature are the brothers of God, is the cruellest 
of all lapses of memory. However mean my 
neighbour may be, Christ's Personality is vast 
enough to reach out to him, just as the lowest 
animal may look at the sun. That some or even 
many human beings have a special kind of relation- 
ship with Christ, through their baptism, does not 
supersede the more elementary fact that all men 
are of the family of which God came. 

It may even be said that Christ's activities, 
of whatever kind, in the world and on the world, 
are intended as means to win man to the practical 
realisation that He their God is amongst them. 


If the New Testament is to be taken literally, if 
its grammar, like the grammar of every great book, 
is the child of higher thinking, then we are happy 
people indeed. Then the primary and fundamental 
condition of our life is involvement in Christ's 
Divine and infinite Personality, instead of its being 
an action from a distance. We may not be able 
to understand how we are thus contained, though 
infinitude in Personality cannot mean anything 
short of infinitude of comprehension, infinitude of 
infolding, even to the least educated mind. St. 
Paul's pleroma and ' in Christ/ if taken literally, 
ought to change our views on the nature of our 
spiritual life not less radically than the Copernican 
theories of the world changed the world's astro- 
nomical views. Instead of Christ revolving round 
about us, to warm us with His grace, we move 
inside Him, inside His Personality, according to 
the New Testament view of spiritual life — at least 
with that portion of our spiritual life that is the 
very centre of spirituality. Or, pressing the com- 
parison from the science of heavenly movement 


still further, with a view to illustrate that mutuality 
of indwelling spoken of elsewhere, the elect being 
in Christ and Christ being in the elect, let us say 
that as the all-pervading ether fills and infolds the 
planet and keeps it in the sun's plane, so likewise 
Christ through the infinitude of His Personality 
dwells in those that have their supernatural being 
in Him. ' And the glory which thou hast given me 
I have given to them, that they may be one, as we 
also are one. I in them, and thou in me, that they 
may be made perfect in one ; and the world may 
know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, 
as thou hast also loved me.' 1 In the spiritual, 
in the mystical order of things we have here 
something greater, something newer than the 
revised astronomies of modern times, but some- 
thing too that human thought is slow to grasp. 
No doubt the indwelling of the Father in the Son, 
and of the Son in the Father, becomes easily the 
delight of a mind prone to lofty speculation ; most 
of us love to look at the immensities of heavenly 
wonders ; the blue sky and the starlit firmament are 
the oldest joys known to man. None of us have 
any difficulties in giving literal meaning to words 
that convey such mutuality of indwelling. But 
we may think such words to be less obviously 
literal when it is our neighbour, our companion in 
Christ's faith, who is meant as being part of that 

1 St, John xvii. 22-231 


wondrous system of divine concentric circles. In 
the regions of the North Pole, no doubt, it may 
become difficult to realise that the earth moves in 
the plane of the sun. 

But discarding all metaphor now, the glories 
of the Hypostatic Union are intensely human in their 
aim. Hypostatic Union is not a spiritual prodigy 
that appears in the heavens for its own sake : the 
blade, and the ear, and the ripe fruit, happy children 
and old men basking in the sunlight here on earth, 
make of the immensity of the sun-ball a quite 
proportionate means to an end. But here is my 
metaphor again. Quite simply, then, if my mind 
delights in the sublime verities of Hypostatic Union, 
whilst I regard and treat my brother as though he 
were not God's brother too, the great mystery is 
for me a barren marvel. 

There is endless food for thought in the fact that 
the great mystery of God, the Incarnation, the 
secret hidden in God from the beginning, should be 
connected indissolubly with Simon the fisherman, 
and Mary the woman with the seven devils, and the 
woman who had five husbands, with a sixth one who 
was not hers, and Judas who loved the Master whom 
he betrayed. They are figures and types of the 
humanity which will be Christ's conquest. ' Now 
Jacob's well was there ; Jesus therefore, being 
wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well. . . . 
There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. 


. . . Jesus answered and said to her : If thou didst 
know the gift of God, and who is he that saith to 
thee, Give me to drink ; thou perhaps wouldest 
have asked of him, and he would have given thee 
living water. . . . And immediately his disciples 
came, and they wondered that he talked with the 
woman. Yet no man said : What seekest thou, or 
why talkest thou with her?. ... I have meat to 
eat which you know not. . . . My meat is to do 
the will of Him that sent me, that I may perfect His 
work. . . . Behold I say to you, Lift up your eyes, 
and see the countries, for they are white already 
to harvest.' * 

Sun of Justice, Word Incarnate, Thine is the 
blade, Thine is the ear, Thine is the ripe corn in 
the ear. Grant me to love Thy harvest, tor which 
Thou shinest in the heavens in the glory of Thy 
Hypostatic Union ; keep my feet from trampling 
on the rising blade, whilst my intellect gazes at Thy 
beauty in the blue firmament ; keep my hands from 
plucking ruthlessly the ear that is whitening, whilst 
I walk through life full of the rapturous thoughts of 
Thy being God. Make me to understand that Thou 
didst become Sun for the sake of the blade, that 
Thou seest the possibility of a true worshipper of the 
Father there where I harden my thoughts and turn 
away my eyes. May my mind return thanks to Thee 
for the delights of the thought that Thou art one 

1 St, John iv. 


with the Father, by generously accepting my oneness 
with my brother in Thee, and let me pay for my 
glorious freedom to go in and to go out in the 
infinitude of Thy most sweet Personality by 
cheerfully accepting Thy great Law, O Thou most 
long-suffering of Friends — ' Bear ye one another's 
burdens, and so you shall fulfil the law of Christ.' 





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